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.