I’m excited about all the (possible) breakthroughs we see happening in cultural research. For instance identifying trends in the work of artist by using Big Data visual analysis, analyzing narratives to predict Times Person of the Year and looking at twitter feeds to gain better understanding of human well being. These examples and research projects show that there’s a lot going on in this very diversified field of cultural research.
Global Pulse Twitter analyses
One of the great examples is the United Nations Global Pulse project. The Global Pulse initiative is exploring how new, digital data sources and real-time analytics technologies can help policymakers understand human well-being and emerging vulnerabilities in real-time, in order to better protect populations from shocks.
The initiative was established based on recognizing that digital data offers the opportunity to gain a better understanding of changes in human well being, and to get real-time feedback on how well policy responses are working. The overarching objective of Global Pulse is to mainstream the use of data mining and real-time data analytics into development organizations and communities of practice. One example of Global Pulse Research comes from their Lab in Indonesia. They have built a model to predict real-time inflation rates bases on Tweets. As you can see Twitter is quite popular in Jakarta.
Left: Map of Jakarta based on Tweets. Right: Real-time inflation based on text analysis.
The inflation rate is based on text-analyses of the words used on twitter. A combination of certain words used, like for instance “minyak goreng” – cooking oil and “ketahanan pangan” – food security – result in a .89 correlation with inflation.