An exploration of cultural production

Posted to Statistical Visualization  |  Tags: ,  |  Nathan Yau

Pantheon, a project from the Macro Connections group at The MIT Media Lab, explores cultural influences across countries and domains.

To make our efforts tractable, Pantheon will not focus on culture, as it is understood in its broadest sense, but on cultural production. In a broad sense, culture can be understood as all of the information that humans—or animals [1]—generate and transmit through non-genetic means [2]. At Pantheon, however, we do not focus on the entire range of cultural information, but in a subset of this information that we define narrowly as cultural production. That is, we do not focus on cultural information such as passed on family values or societal trust [3], but on cultural production as proxied by the biographies of notable historical characters. Moreover, we focus on the subset of cultural production that we can identify as global culture, meaning the subset of cultural production that has broken the barriers of space, time and language.

Rankings inevitably come into play, such as who the most influential philosopher, physicist, or country is, and the project covers a broad spectrum, so the methodology is the most important here. Using data from Wikipedia, Freebase, and other online sources, the researchers created several indices that essentially give a score to individuals for popularity and production. This naturally results in estimation fuzziness, which means you take the results with salt and all that.

It’s an interesting look though and a good start to something bigger. If anything, you’ll probably learn something new after poking around for a bit.

Favorites

Pizza Place Geography

Most of the major pizza chains are within a 5-mile radius of where I live, so I have my pick, …

The Best Data Visualization Projects of 2014

It’s always tough to pick my favorite visualization projects. Nevertheless, I gave it a go.

Causes of Death

There are many ways to die. Cancer. Infection. Mental. External. This is how different groups of people died over the past 10 years, visualized by age.

Graphical perception – learn the fundamentals first

Before you dive into the advanced stuff – like just about everything in your life – you have to learn the fundamentals before you know when you can break the rules.