Hans Rosling Rocks.
There is no better way to say it.
As you probably have heard, talks from the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conferences are being put online. If for some reason word has not yet reached you- click over right now and check it out,there are days worth of thought provoking videos accumulating on the site ( do it in another tab so you can easily hop back here and finish reading).
One of my favorite speakers is Hans Rosling. Not just because he stretches you to think about things in different ways- that is the point of every speaker at this conference-but because of the passion and sense of wonder and humor he brings to his topics. When you listen to this video, imagine being a student in one of his classes- this is not a class you would fall asleep in. His excitement and enthusiasm is not just overwhelming, it is contagious. If you enjoy this sample, be sure to look up his 2007 TED talk- you will not only learn a few things about poverty trends and what is possible; you get to see him swallow a sword!
Hans is not new to the net denizens, there are long lists of his videos and Gapcasts over on YouTube. His research website, Gapminder.org, has been on the net for several years and is where the group that first developed this data visualization software, Trendalyzer;which was acquired by Google about a year ago. Rosling is the champion of freely available data for everyone and the ability to use tools and data for hypothesis formation. He wants to put real data in front of everyone -"creating a fact bases world view"- to help them understand the world before making policy decisions, or deciding on a course of action. He is my hero.