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21st Century Visualization

Tibetan Buddhist practice uses a lot of visualization practice. First words of Hans Rosling's presentation: "Visualization is right at the heart of my own work, too."

But Hans Rosling is a Swedish professor of public health. What's he visualizing, and what does it have to do with Buddhism and interdependence?

He's visualizing relationships between health, money, wealth, geography, cultures -- he's relating the the world to the world, and he's rocking the world brain1: See Dollar Street on his Gapminder site, or any of his other super-serious, super-fun, mind-blowing presentations.

In the video below, which grabbed me the minute I saw it on the Economist magazine's site, he's talking about world statistics on lifespan and health over the past 200 years. He's visulizing with amazing computer graphics, in real space, in real time. Amazing!

Visualizing images in real space: wow! Remind anyone of anything?

As I watched Rosling, I couldn't help but think of the recent IDP study series with Miles Neale, on Empathy & Global Consciousness. In those classes we talked about Jeremy Rifkin, an influential and controversial economic theorist, and aspects of his vision for the Third Industrial Revolution, a long-term economic sustainability plan. We related Rifkin's work to Buddhist philosophy about compassion and empathy, the realization of nonself, and the empty-interdependent nature of reality.

Hans Rosling's visualizations are right there, at that nexus. They are visualizations of interdependence.

Visualizations for 21st century Buddhism indeed.


1 Hans will be featured on the BBC television programme The Joy of Stats airing December 7th on BBC 4.

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