Launch HN: OurWorldInData (YC W19 Nonprofit) – Data on World’s Largest Problems

Hi HN!

We’re Hannah, Esteban, Jaiden and Max, the founders of Our World in Data (https://OurWorldInData.org). We’re a nonprofit in the YC W19 batch.

Our World in Data is a website that shows how and why global living conditions and the earth’s environment are changing. Is the world becoming more violent? Is an end to poverty possible? It’s hard to know because daily news focuses on negative single events, and misses long-lasting changes that reshape the world.

We’re a group of researchers from the University of Oxford trying to solve this problem. We bring together data and research from many different sources often buried under jargon in static, outdated documents. We present a global perspective on living conditions and environmental change through interactive data visualizations and short explainers.

Max started Our World in Data in 2013 whilst working as a researcher at the University of Oxford. The project was born from a frustration that we are so poorly informed about how the world is changing—we fail to notice the important developments shaping our world and are not aware what is possible for the future. It has now evolved into a full-time project with a small team of researchers and web developers (we’ll be looking for a new web developer this week!). We’re all driven by the same motivation: to make sure data and research on how the world is changing is free and accessible for everyone.

We cover many topics, ranging from poverty to health, environment, energy, education, and violence. Our data and analysis are available at global, regional and country levels. And we try to provide the longest-term data we can, often going back many decades or centuries.

We average more than 1M users per month; these range from policymakers to journalists, academics to school teachers. But we’ve also had some use cases that took us by surprise: To many readers it’s unexpected to see that the world has made substantial progress in important aspects and psychologists have recently told us that they use our website to help patients with depression and anxiety. We did not expect this use of our work at all and asked them for more details. One of them explained: “Facts can be a powerful weapon against fear, a gloomy worldview, learned helplessness. So I help clients find facts at Our World in Data.”

We usually work remotely, because we are not all based in the same country—this is the first time that we were able to find a 3-month window of time to move to California and work together.

We come from a university environment and applied to YC because we wanted learn from the startup and the technology world. The work at YC and the contact with the partners and other founders have definitely given us an entirely new perspective on how to work.

We’re here at HN because we are sure we can learn a lot from the community here. We knew there had been HN threads on aspects of our work before – but after a recent search (http://bit.ly/OWID-searches-on-HN) we had no idea there were so many. It’s amazing to see that these posts created such great discussion within the HN community.

Our website is here: https://OurWorldInData.org. We are a non-profit and all our work is entirely free; open access research (Creative Commons licensed) and open source code. If you’re interested in supporting this with a donation to us you can do so here: https://OurWorldInData.org/Donate.
Or if you have any other queries, you can reach out at hannah@ourworldindata.org.

We would really appreciate any feedback you have on what we can do better. Thank you!

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