Introduction: Confessions of a Nerd Child
When I was young, my family had an ancient set of Funk & Wagnalls new world encyclopedias. My favorite entries were those about different countries. I loved reading about their histories and cultures, even if the information was outdated. At the beginning of each article was a list of demographics for the country. Checking the variations between countries was one of my many list-based hobbies growing up. I especially liked seeing the similarities and differences between countries that were near to each other, or were similar in size. Population density was a favorite demographic; for some reason I thought it was very interesting how two countries could be roughly the same size, yet have differing amounts of people packed into their borders. Using the Gapminder World program available at www.gapminder.org is like taking those juvenile comparisons and multiplying them out exponentially. With this tool, you have the ability to compare the trends in demographics of many countries over many years, in a two-dimensional space. It is awesome!