The data from Hans Rosling & gapminder.org is finally available to have a play with yourself! (go to the gapminder site and click the link that says ‘gapminder world’)
First off, if you haven’t seen Rosling’s first TED talk, you should watch this first:
The basic idea is that you can chart a whole range of data over time, including stats on health, the economy, life expectancy and so on. There’s not much that relates directly to innovation (though there are several numbers that are peripherally related – like education, productivity per worker hour, and patents), but here’s one that I made tracking patents against gdp per capita. To watch it pull the slider back to ‘1984’, then hit play. As near as I can tell, there are two stories there – first that the European countries have started to patent much more extensively in the US since the 1990s, the second is that China is starting to patent more intensively as well. The latter supports a point that Mark & I have made in a couple of research papers – that the stereotype of the Asians economies being more imitative than innovative is rapidly become less accurate.
Despite there not being many innovation stories present in the statistics, this approach to showing stats is certainly innovative. And gapminder has been doing a fantastic job of making available statistics that have previously been relatively inaccessible. In any case,