Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Visualizing our world

In his inaugural talk at the launch of the Swiss version of the Creative Commons licence, Volker Grasmück presented a very thoughtful lecture on the implication of copyright, and ended up with a plea for acceptance of small style piracy. More about that will follow on this site, organized by the Digitale Allmend.

In his talk he showed a slide he got from which has one cool visualizationt tool: using a mapping tool to represent each country's proportional contribution to a topic, such as the world's native plant species. This then allows to compare to the population size, science, or actual physical size.

This map shows the number of native plant species, and demonstrates a bias towards the southern hemisphere, especially the continents of South America and Africa. In contrast, Canada and North America have relatively few species (source:

The land area of each territory is shown here.

The total land area of these 200 territories is 13,056 million hectares. Divided up equally that would be 2.1 hectares for each person. A hectare is 100 metres by 100 metres. (Source:

In Spring 2000 world population estimates reached 6 billion; that is 6 thousand million. The distribution of the earth's population is shown in this map (Source:

Scientific papers cover physics, biology, chemistry, mathematics, clinical medicine, biomedical research, engineering, technology, and earth and space sciences. (Source:

This map shows the growth in scientific research of territories between 1990 and 2001. If there was no increase in scientific publications that territory has no area on the map. (Source:


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