Clement Charles

Clement Charles 's thoughts
July 8th, 2014 by Clement Charles

A world of data

I just discovered the Good Country website and the Good Country Index, dubbed as a new way of looking at the world. It’s a really interesting proposition and this, for many reasons. Below, more infos about the site and what I find great.

As the founders explains, the idea of the Good Country Index is pretty simple: “to measure what each country on earth contributes to the common good of humanity, and what it takes away“. In terms of sources and data set, the site is using a wide range of data from the U.N. and other international organisations.  “We’ve given each country a balance-sheet to show at a glance whether it’s a net creditor to mankind, a burden on the planet, or something in between”  explains founder Simon Anholt. He adds “it’s important to explain that we are not making any moral judgments about countries. What I mean by a Good Country is something much simpler: it’s a country that contributes to the greater good.”

It will rate important topic for the future of our planet, and even more central for one of the species of this rather unique ecosystem, mankind. You will then information and takings about Science and Technology, Culture, Int’l Peace and Security, World Planet and Climate, Prosperity and Equality or Health and Wellbeing

In addition to the great first site that you can visit right now, the project is questioning the purpose of nation, sparking or contributing to a global debate about what countries are really for. As Simon Arnholt ask on its homepage “Do they exist purely to serve the interests of their own politicians, businesses and citizens, or are they actively working for all of humanity and the whole planet? The debate is a critical one, because if the first answer is the correct one, we’re all in deep trouble”.

Also, in terms of focus, it’s important to note that the Good Country Index doesn’t measure what countries do at home. Nothing new there. Indeed, what the Index does aim to do is to start a global discussion about how countries can balance their duty to their own citizens with their responsibility to the wider world, because this is essential for the future of humanity and the health of our planet.

Simon Arnholt, like many, including me is what I could call a hopeful pessimist or a careful optimist. Things may get better. Not only if know where to go (we do), but also if we have the true will to get there. On its website, Arnholt concludes “Today as never before, we desperately need a world made of good countries. We will only get them by demanding them: from our leaders, our companies, our societies, and of course from ourselves”.

You will agree that the approach is really interesting and quite original. In addition, the project pushes the logic of open data a step further. Indeed, in our world of algorithm and big data, you may access the results (you often do), possibly the data set (it’s rare), the raw data (nearly never) but you can hardly identify the “paradigm”, the philosophy between how raw data are interpreted, on how data set are consolidated and how results uses/ponderate/exclude elements of the data sets. On that site, I really enjoyed the fact that the logic behind the data is full transparent. Indeed, if you want to know is ranked number 2 in ” prosperity and equality” (why?don’t underestimate the importance of good chocolate for all) and 71 in “international peace” (why? we do host the red cross, but we also sell land mines), you can view the whole logic that led to that conclusion at the end of the ranking, by accessible a deep document on the source of data and how they were used. You can also view the whole site by country (ie. Switzerland).

Good initiative. To be followed.

 

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