Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Transforming Data

glimpes of evolution in the information age

Hans Rosling is founder and director of Gapminder, an interesting non-profit venture that promotes sustainable global development. He has breathed life into the world of numbers and managed to do what many thought impossible.

By developing a software program named Trendalyser he was able to “unveil the beauty of statistical time series by converting boring numbers into enjoyable, animated and interactive graphics.” The ultimate goal is to access all of the existing and accumulating informational data bases of the world – which are critically important yet often stored in archaic and difficult to reach places- and transform them into large interactive pools of information that display in incredibly useful formats.

The ability to get more out of the data is truly astounding and has global implications in developmental, economic, health, environmental and social sectors just to name a few. An example of what this technology offers can be seen in Roslings 2006 discussion “debunking the myths of the world.”

The potential for evaluating, examining, and understanding statistical information is staggering. In this way, better decisions and more effective solutions could be implemented. For example, trends in medicine could be tracked and correlations made that favor optimal health thereby improving our understanding of what does and doesn’t work.

These trends could be noticed quicker and targeted more precisely with much more nuance (i.e.; what subpopulations respond to what therapies). This could have a significant impact in science and evidenced based medicine in the near future and promises to make life easier for practitioners striving for the best medicine.

On a related note, there is a bourgeoning new generation of web based services in human medicine that promises to revolutionize how medicine is practiced. The ScienceRoll site has an excellent review of the possibilities.

No comments: