Think Quarterly from Google UK on data

March 27, 2011


Statistics  /  ,

“The problem isn’t that specialised companies lack the data they need, it’s that they don’t go and look for it, they don’t understand how to handle it.”

—Hans Rosling, A Data State of Mind, March 2011

Google UK produced a short book called Think Quarterly to distribute to partners and advertisers, but it’s actually pretty interesting for a more general audience. Articles feature Hans Rosling, Hal Varian, and others. Also a hat tip to FlowingData in Simon Rogers’ list of sexy resources.


  • I’ve just browsed this, but looks to be some interesting stuff in here.

    One question for people – any thoughts on how to produce a picture like the on on page 18 of the PDF?

    I’ve seen a number of similar things (the Hans Rosling example jumps to mind) and I’ve done this in an animated fashion in Flex/Flash, but I really like the treatment here. I can see cranking this out over a long couple days in illustrator, but wondering if there isn’t a better (repeatable…) way. R? Processing? (I’ve tinkered with both, but not enough to answer my own question here).

    • Moritz Stefaner ( did that, and he usually uses Flash. He often makes use of the Flare package.

      • Ah.. you know, I thought it looked familiar. I hung up Flare in favor of my own home-grown stuff, but I’ll have another look to see if there’s something I can work with there. Thanks.

      • Thanks for the post and comments – this time around, actually, I used Illustrator and Nodebox ( Find some more info on the graphics (and the non-inverted originals) here:

      • Moritz: Thank you! I wasn’t familiar with nodebox (so many tools so little time) but in 30 minutes I’ve generated a picture very similar to yours (as a little exercise for myself). I need to sort out how you drew the “tails” (I have the increasing-in-size circles, but the “ghost-cone-outline” is what really makes your graphic stand apart). I suspect I can get that sorted in short-order though.

        Always nice to get inspiration from somewhere, then hear from the author of that inspiration. Thanks again!

      • Hope not to spil the puzzle for you, but I just draw a low opacity, thick line between the circle centers :)

      • Ha… it’s always the simple answer isn’t it? Though I kind of enjoyed going back to my high school geometry and doing lengthy math to draw some bezier curves (At least I have a new appreciation of bezier curves!)

  • I just received my print (hardback) copy of it. Pretty impressive, especially the 3D pop-up infographic at the end. Pics here: