history of data / data in history

Friday, April 17, 2015 - Saturday, April 18, 2015  9:00am - 5:00pm The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room

The workshop will bring together two communities: 1) historians of science and technology dealing with Big Data and its many history predecessors, and 2) scholars drawing upon many of the techniques of text mining, social network analysis, and other analytical tools associated with Big Data. It will be one of the inaugural events of Columbia's new Center for Science and Society.

Historians of data offer greater analytical purchase on the limitations and dangers of the collection and analysis of different forms of data. They likewise serve as a powerful correction to historical myopia about “big data” today. Data-focused computational historians work with techniques well-suited to the volume of historical records often common in the last two centuries and illuminating applied to traditional historical sources such as learned correspondence. This workshop aims to foster a greater critical literacy around data by drawing together these two sets of competencies that too rarely overlap. This workshop would critically examine the techniques for the study of historical evidence and the creation of histories of large-scale objects previously resistant to more traditional methods within the history of science by pushing the start of art of tools in computational history. It also hopes to use the critical acuity central to the history of science and technology to help refine our computational tools; better to understand their limits and to improve upon them. The goal is not simply mutual critique, but the sharpening of tools and methodologies, qualitative and quantitative.

This workshop is by invite only with the reading of precirculated papers. To request papers and attendance, please email Professor Matthew Jones, James R. Barker Professor of Contemporary Civilization at Columbia University.

The workshop is made possible with the suppport of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.


  • Frédéric Brechenmacher

    Professor of History of Science and Technology

    Ecole Polytechnique

  • Henry Cowles

    Assistant Professor

    Yale University

  • Stephanie Dick

    Junior Fellow in the Society of Fellows

    Harvard University

  • Megan Finn

    Assistant Professor

    Information School, University of Washington

  • Arunabh Ghosh

    Assistant Professor of History

    Harvard University

  • Fred Gibbs

    Assistant Professor

    University of New Mexico History Department

  • Evan Hepler-Smith

    Graduate Student, History of Science

    Princeton University

  • Matthew L. Jones

    James R. Barker Professor of Contemporary Civilization

    Columbia University

  • Scott Klein

    Director of News Applications Desk


  • Manfred Laubichler

    President’s Professor of Theoretical Biology and History of Biology

    Arizona State University

  • Lev Manovich

    Professor of Computer Science

    The Graduate Center, City University of New York

  • Patrick McCray


    University of California, Santa Barbara

  • Wangui Muigai

    Graduate Student in the History of Science

    Princeton University

  • Frank Pasquale

    Professor of Law

    University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law

  • Martha Poon


    Institute for Data & Society

  • Joanna Radin

    Assistant Professor in the History of Medicine, of Anthropology and of History

    Yale University

  • David Sepkoski

    Research Scholar

    Max Planck Institute for the History of Science

  • Hallam Stevens

    Assistant Professor of History

    Nanyang Technological University

  • Dennis Tenen

    Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature

    Columbia University

  • Janet Vertesi

    Assistant Professor in Sociology

    Princeton University

  • Alex Wellerstein

    Assistant Professor of Science and Technology Studies

    Stevens Institute of Technology


By Semester