Saturday, 3 February 2007

New Web-Gadgets for Economists

Last month, two new web-gadgets caught the attention of bloggers in the economics blog community.

The Procrastinator’s Clock

This is the first one, and it is more trivial (the creator in fact said that it was created in the spirit of Chindōgu). Remember how sometimes we set our watch or clock 5-10 minutes faster than it is, in the futile attempt to trick ourselves from being late? The problem is, we are rational beings (or so according to most mainstream economists), and thus will be bound to adjust our actions according to the ‘trick’ time of our watch/clock. If we set it 5 minutes early, we will just turn up 5 minutes later.

But what if you have a clock that is faster by about 1 to 15 minutes, but is probabilistic in nature? You know it is fast, but do not know exactly how much. Now you can't really adjust your action, since you do not really know how much you need to adjust. Sure it is on average 7 minutes faster, but to hedge your bets on an average in the short term would be costly.

Click here for a web version of the clock.

The inventor? David Seah. Do visit his blog for more.

The Gapminder

This is the second one, and it is a really good tool. It makes boring statistics interesting, and possibly could change the way we look at the world.

The Gapminder is a non-profit organisation, funded by Sida, the Swedish Aid Agency. Gapminder, the tool, basically brings vital global statistics that are freely available, and make them come alive. Words can’t really describe this well, so watch this amazing presentation by Hans Rosling, the founder of Gapminder. Trust me; you will want to watch this.

For fun, I have also tried playing around with it to look at the progress of Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand it terms of income level and life expectancy since 1975. This is the end view:

Basically it shows that Singapore has been leaping way ahead of us in terms of affluence and life expectancy, while Thailand has been catching up really quickly. Watch it in motion.


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