OurWorldInData in 2016

It is great to see OurWorldInData growing! More aspects of how life on earth is changing are discussed and visualised and the technical framework of OurWorldInData.org is becoming much more powerful. (OurWorldInData.org is the web publication on global living conditions that I am working on for the last 4 years.)

As things are changing I wanted to look back on the last year and give an update on what is next.

 

It has been great to see that there is so much interest and enthusiasm about this publication. More than 200 articles have used and covered OurWorldInData, more than 1.5 million people have visited the website and it is shared on social media and – what I’m especially happy about – used in teaching.

To just pick out three recent articles on OurWorldInData:

  1. Quartz chose the OurWorldInData chart that shows the decline of global poverty over the last 2 centuries as the Chart of the Year 2015.
  2. The Guardian covered the web publication in a portrait of the work of Hans and Ola Rosling, Ruth DeFries, and me.
  3. The Edge Question of the Year 2016 is “What do you consider the most interesting recent scientific news?” and Steven Pinker answered – in a fantastic essay – that  the most interesting scientific news is that human progress can now be quantified. Pinker explains perfectly why it is important that we need to communicate human progress and I am honored that he refers to OurWorldInData as a platform that presents this empirical evidence.

 

 

I have said it before, I will definitely continue my work on OurWorldInData.

The difficulty for this work is and remains who wants to fund this. Over the course of 2015 I had support from the London based Nuffield Foundation but this has now come to an end. For the future I still need to find support for this work, but at least for the next 6 months I have good news: for this time OurWorldInData will be based at the Oxford Martin School and supported by the Institute for New Economic Thinking.

The idea of this short term funding is to find financial support that would make OurWorldInData possible over the longer future and now with a very capable and responsive administrative team I very much hope that this will be successful.

Next steps

The current situation is that I have a job for the next 6 months – supported by the two previously mentioned institutions – and I am able to work on this online publication for this time.

And then there is a second and really unexpected stream of support: In November the founder of the crowdfunding platform Tilt, James Beshara, used his platform to raise money to support OurWorldInData. And after one week 139 generous people actually gave money to OurWorldInData! Many thanks again to all of you who donated!

I want to use this money to support the very heart of OurWorldInData: The visualisation tool OurWorldInData-Grapher that makes this platform so useful to many of us. This way all of the many aspects covered on the website will be presented more clearly and we can use and learn better the available empirical evidence on how living conditions changed. To expand this tool I am looking for a new web developer:

New web developer position

The new web developer that I am looking for will focus on improving the data visualisations and the technical framework of OurWorldInData. I have just finished the job description today and you find all details here: http://bit.ly/OWID_WD

We are looking for a candidate as soon as possible. It might be worth mentioning that the position would also be suitable for web developers anywhere in the world since remote work is possible. If you are interested in joining me to build OurWorldInData or you know someone, please get in touch!

Thanks to the 4 previous collaborators!

Over some months in 2015 I had support from a fantastic team that helped to build this platform and I would like to thank each of them wholeheartedly for their work and for being such fantastic colleagues.

From May to September 2015 Lindsay Lee expanded the coverage of OurWorldInData – particularly on health and demographics – and made the content more consistent across the site. Her personal site is LindsayEvansLee.com. Lindsay continued her studies at the University of Oxford after her work at OurWorldInData and I wish her all the very best for her studies and her career – hopefully in global health.

In the summer of 2015 Julia Murphy, who is a student of economics and engineering at Dartmouth College, was contributing to this project as an intern. She focused on expanding the section ‘Media & Communication’ and very quickly helped to develop this project further.

From June to October 2015 Mohamed Nagdy – an economist who has invaluable quality of combining a thorough theoretical education in economics with strong empirical skills – helped to expand the content on the growth and distribution of incomes, economic development, violence, and education. Mohamed completed his MPhil in Economics in 2015 at the University of Oxford and after his work at OurWorldInData he went to London to work as an economist.

From May 2015 to January 2016 Zdenek Hynek expanded the capabilities of the web publication by building the OurWorldInData-Graper. He also overhauled the technical framework of OurWorldInData.org completely. I am very thankful for his work on this publication. Zdenek is a London-based web developer and with his very strong skills in the technologies that are used for visualising data on the web, including JavaScript, d3.js, php and SQL he is a sought-after web developer. He had several job offers and decided to join a top information design agency in London after his work for OurWorldInData.

Many thanks to Lindsay, Mohamed, Julia, and Zdenek!

Future funding

Unfortunately, it has not been possible yet to find funding that would make it possible to build a team that would work on  OurWorldInData for a longer time. But I will try to make this possible. What is certain is that it is a and will remain a public good: All data on OurWorldInData.org  is available for download. All visualisations done for OurWorldInData are Creative Commons licensed. And all tools are open source.

I will try my best to find funding for OurWorldInData and very much hope that one day OurWorldInData will be an open-access web publication, written for anyone interested in global development, that uses accessible data visualizations to present empirical research on living conditions around the world. The web publication will present the empirical evidence on how living conditions have changed and it will present the academic research that explains why. (I have published a funding request here.)

And – the last update –, after many people asked for this, it is now possible to support OurWorldInData with a donation.

 

 

This is the current situation at OurWorldInData and I wish you all the very best for 2016!

Kind regards,

Max