Southeast Missouri State University

Standing in the Gap

John Casebolt

As part of Generation X, I witnessed the birth of cable and satellite TV, micro-wave ovens, PCs, Pong, and compact discs. I saw the divide between my father of the Baby Boom Generation and my grandmother of the Greatest Generation. This divide has been know as the generation gap. The gap appears between every generation and is more than a difference of opinions. It is a contrast of mindsets and a dramatic change of one’s worldview.

The gap between my son and me is one of technology. While I am familiar with computers, cell phones, programming the clock on the VCR, these technologies are second nature to my son. As a student majoring in Engineering/Physics and Applied Math, I use a lot of statistical data. Until now crunching numbers has been left to the world of nerds and geeks. Thanks to new software called Gapminder, data can come to life as demonstrated by Dr. Hans Rosling. Dr. Rosling’s entertaining talk on “Debunking Third World Myths” convinced me that the presentation of facts is often as or more important than the numbers themselves. With Gapminder, we have access to huge amounts of data that is already collected, plus the added ability to upload our own data. Click on the link here to see the program plot the % of agriculture’s contribution to the national economy vs. total % of arable land used for agriculture by country from 1961 to 2005. China is highlighted.