Friday, October 17, 2008

Goodbye to us-and-them prejudice

When botanizing in the great videos of, I came across an interesting one with Swedish Hans Rosling of Among many other things, he says:

"I have shown that Swedish top students know statistically significantly less about the world than the chimpanzees [do]" - Hans Rosling, 2006

Go ahead and click the link, or see below for his dense and pretty brief lecture:

Rosling's project is (among other things?) an easily usable frontend to a wealth of databases for laymen to be able to present existing census data in very rich ways. Just as an example, I tried to find some parameters who say something about the development in the nordic countries including Estonia - I chose the density of cellphones and computers per hundred people:

It was really quite tricky to find any parameters which would tell something interesting on just a national level, even more so anything significant in which Estonia "beats" the nordic countries which maybe was a little surprise to me, but anyway, I made a little interpretation of these two graphs.

Firstly - there clearly are computers in Estonia, it should be a little wake-up-call for any colonially minded westeners who are sneering at Estonia, Kazachstan or any of the other post-soviet countries. Once the opening is there, some development goes very fast and indeed few Estonians may have had videogames as kids, but once they started getting computers and cellphones, they cought up fast and are on par with the rest of the western world when it comes to cellphones, and have caught up with at least Finland when it comes to computers.

The second conclusion I make from this data is that cheaper consumer products reach penetration faster than more expensive such. This is true not only for cellphones vs computers, but many other things in society as well - I have at least a hunch of that the more costly the more inertia an issue has, and people renovate the inside of their apartments before they get together and cough up the money to clean up the facade. It makes a lot of difference in the impression of the interested bystander.

I know my reasoning is simple and generalizing, but maybe you have an opinion of your own you'd like to share with us?


Olof said...

This is the most interesting stuff I've seen in weeks. Thanks dude

Carl-Johan Sveningsson said...

You're very welcome, but then you can't have seen my wiimote hack blog entry?! :-P

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