Professor Hans Rosling, is the co-founder of a very interesting website called Gapminder. The website is dedicated to using graphics, animation and interactive charts to display and interpret global data. The tools initially developed by the site, now lives as the Motion Chart gadget within Google docs.
The technology, while not cutting edge, is nifty. Information of up to four dimensions plus time is displayed beautifully in an interactive way. There is no dearth of data around, but having a way to view, interpret, understand and communicate the knowledge hidden within all that data is what makes the data usable.
This is a perfect example where technology meets society in ways deeper than Facebook and Twitter can. Where technology directly faces societies' challenges and is able to directly make a difference. Something like the Random hacks of kindness, a story I heard on NPR a couple of weeks ago (embedded below).
Back to Prof Hans. He hosts a BBC program that makes statistics sexy and enjoyable. After the break is a wonderful visualization of the progress made by humanity in the last two hundred years. A simple, yet powerful, metric of life as we know it.