Friday, December 30, 2011

New Book on Data Journalism

Simon Rogers has a new book called Facts are Sacred: The power of data coming out as a part of the Guardian Shorts series with a Kindle Edition available now from Amazon.UK and in January from Amazon in the US.

I was turned on to this project when I stumbled across this excellent collaborative project visualizing the spread of rumor via Twitter during last summer's London riots.

For the last hour or so I've been having that "I should have written this book" feeling -- not a pleasant feeling, but a recommendation to be sure. A nice feature of the book is that it blends boosterism and manifesto with how to and reportage on best practices. That brings it in as a book that won't be perfect for anyone, but has something for each of it's several potential audiences.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Google Knol into the Dustbin of E-history

After 15 weeks of non-stop work, a moment for thinking about something other than classes and budgets came available today. Recently, while googling about, I became re-acquainted with the idea of a "knol" -- a unit of knowledge -- and the associated web service that Google has run these last number of years. And the fact that it is going away. Or rather it is evolving: into something called Annotum which describes itself this way:
Develop a simple, robust, easy-to-use authoring system to create and edit scholarly articles
Deliver an editorial review and publishing system that can be used to submit, review, and publish scholarly articles
The google knol thing has been around since 2007. The initial beta announcement described the thithis way
Knols are authoritative articles about specific topics, written by people who know about those subjects.
I remember, now, encountering it back in the day -- I may even have written some knols -- but it didn't stay on the radar screen for long. It was portrayed at the time as an alternative to Wikipedia -- with it's distinguishing characteristic being "authorship" :
The key principle behind Knol is authorship. Every knol will have an author (or group of authors) who put their name behind their content. It's their knol, their voice, their opinion. We expect that there will be multiple knols on the same subject, and we think that is good (googleblog, 2008).
The divergence between Wikipedia's modus operandi and that of Knol (now Annotum) provides a nice case study jumping off point for thinking aboutf how we are figuring out the relationship between crowd sourcing and authorship, peer production, open source, intellectual authority, and how platform as institution feeds into how we think about content legitimacy.

Wikipedia harvests (harnesses, makes possible the emergence or realization) of a potentiality that, in a sense, has always been there, but represents a completely new mode of knowledge aggregation and access.  A project like Knol or Annotatum, on the other hand, is about removing the friction from existing processes in a way that makes more of what's already done happen more easily.

Both approaches thumb their nose at property-based organizational middle-men as the arbiter of intellectual legitimacy, but exploring the contrast between them is instructive.

I am, of course, not the first to think about this.  One knol author suggested that the real point of contrast is "Wikipedia does not allow the visionary or individualistic type of knowledge to be developed, because Wikipedia does not allow original content." And if you google "knol vs. wikipedia" you'll find lots of others -- my initial, quick and dirty assessment is that most are boosters for one or the other approach but I'm guessing there will be some grist for the mill for the chapter in The Sociology of Information where I'll talk about the social organization of information aggregation.

Bottom line: I'm back on the job.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Gossip, CMC, and Tight Knit Communities

Published: September 19, 2011
As more people share gossip over the Internet rather than over coffee and eggs, anonymous, and startlingly negative, posts have provoked fights, divorce and worse.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Good eye/mind catches logical fallacy in WSJ Analysis

Jean Whit notes that the authors of this piece about Wall Street Journal number crunching about sovereign debt default and bond ratings, WSJ Analysis: Rating Firms Not Effective at Predicting Government Defaults, got their analysis backwards. A classic case of sampling on the dependent variable or percentaging in the wrong direction: how many of the defaults had a given rating rather than how many with a given rating end up defaulting. See Jean's comment at bottom of post.

GPS, Orwell, and the 4th Amendment

The 9/11 anniversary reminds us, among all the other things, of the questions of government surveillance that have arisen in the last decade, some related to terrorism, some reflecting challenges raised by new technologies, and many at the intersection of these.

This fall, the US Supreme Court will consider whether law enforcement should be able to attach a GPS tracking device on a vehicle without a warrant. Adam Liptak reports on the issue in "Court Case Asks if ‘Big Brother’ Is Spelled GPS" in today's New York Times. Lower courts have ruled in different directions on the question.

One way to think about it is in terms of aggregating information and whether there's an emergent property that changes how we would classify obtaining, possessing, or using information. Consider, for example, one's daily round. Leave the house at 7:30, stop for coffee, pick up the dry-cleaning, get stuck in traffic, arrive at work, park in the lot over behind the pine trees, etc. All of these are done in public with no expectation of privacy. And then it all happens again tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow. Except the dry cleaning stop is only made on Mondays and every other Friday there's a stop at a bar on the edge of downtown. If there is a GPS attached to your car, the separate public facts of any given daily round -- the sequence and full set of which perhaps only you know -- are assembled as a unit of information. And, if the GPS is there for a month, both the overall, boring, day-in-day-out pattern and the regular exceptions and the truly unique exceptions are all a part of the information bundle available "out there."

 Even if all of the component information is about mundane, innocent, non-embarrassing activities, indeed has all the properties that would exclude it from your understanding of "private" information, does your willingness to do these things in public view aggregate to willingness for information about them to be aggregated into a tracking record?

See also
New York Times. Articles on Surveillance of Citizens by Government
New York Times. Articles on Global Positioning System

Saturday, September 10, 2011

From Musical Consonance to Styles of Thought

An article published in Physical Review Letters, reported on in Science News, describes a mathematical model of how neurons can distinguish consonant sounds (say, a C-major chord) from dissonant ones (say, D-E-F). A simple network of neurons, behaving like neurons behave, produces qualitatively different outputs depending on the quantitative differences in the sound frequencies it receives as inputs.

Very interesting as an example of an information processing system with emergent information processing capacities.

I suspect something, at least metaphorically, similar might go on in the processing/experience of consonant ideas. At first I'm tempted to say "least that part of consonant or resonant ideas that we want to ascribe to consonance in the external world" but I think you could take it further and imagine the development of structures along similar lines for the detection of "constructed" consonance. Eventually, one could arrive at mechanisms for implementing "styles of thought" that would not be limited to algorithmic systems that "crank through a set of data" in the same way every time. Rather, we could talk about styles of thought in terms of the kinds of thoughts, tropes, logics, metaphors that would appeal as consonant with "everything else I believe." Or, the flip side of this would be to move toward mechanisms for cognitive dissonance.

 Just a highly speculative bit of musing, but clearly news of this research did strike a chord with some stuff I've been thinking about for a long time.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Sociology of Information in the New York Times

Published: September 3, 2011
Why all the sharp swings in the stock market? To Robert J. Shiller, it’s a case of investors trying to guess what other investors are thinking....
Seeking not what is the case, but what others probably think is, or even what others think that others think is...
Published: September 2, 2011
When Rick Perry, the governor of Texas and a presidential hopeful, debates his rivals, his assertions on climate change, Social Security and health care could put him to the test....
Once it's out there, it's out there...
Published: August 29, 2011
The antisecrecy organization WikiLeaks published nearly 134,000 diplomatic cables, including many that name confidential sources....
Developing story -- a leak, a revelation, or just a mistake?  (See also previous posts on Wikileaks.)

Bloomberg Contra Notification Norms

Consider a recent NYT article by Mosi Secret and Michael Barbaro about the controversy over New York mayor Michael Bloomberg's failure to inform the public about the actual reason -- an arrest in Washington, D.C. for domestic violence* -- deputy mayor Stephen Goldsmith resigned this summer.

 According to the article, Bloomberg "rejected the notion that he had an obligation to tell the public of the arrest." He is quote saying, “I always assumed it would come out, but it’s not my responsibility.”

 It's a first rate example of notification in the public sphere and of how overlapping relational circles can suggest contradictory notification rules.

 It turns out that it's not just a notification issue, though. Initially the mayor said the resignation was to pursue other opportunities -- in other words, he was pretty explicitly misleading not just failing to reveal.

 But back to notification. Bloomberg, apparently, takes the line is that his first obligation was instrumental, making sure "he no longer works for the city." And then his next obligation is to treat Goldsmith and his family with respect. His critics suggest that his first obligation is to the public, although the one quoted in the article, Scott M. Stringer, the Manhattan borough president, sticks with the instrumental saying Bloomberg has responsibility to "protect the public, not to protect a staff member” according to the article. But nobody really seems to be saying that there was any instrumental damage done by the non-notification and it's a bit disingenuous to say that getting Goldsmith off the city payroll was facilitated by non-notification.

 The issue, then, is how the various relational imperatives governing who ought to tell whom what when and how interact. New York City law, as it happens, has something to say: "the city’s Department of Investigation must be notified" if an official is arrested in the city (not clear by whom), but this did not come into play here since arrest was in DC. The article reports a debate within the mayor's team about the matter with the mayor saying that Goldsmith should get to decide how much to reveal. And after the fact Goldsmith, who took some heat for not indicating in his resignation announcement what the reason was, has "admitted" that HE had a responsibility to be more forthcoming at the time, though he added that he thought that immediacy of his resignation "mooted the need for further explanation."

So, does the mayor's official role and its informational obligations trump the social obligation to allow another "ownership" of his own announcement?   Does the consequential outcome -- resignation -- obviate the obligation to notify (for the record, Goldsmith says he was wrong on that count). If there is public outrage based only/mainly on the relational expectation of "we should have been told," does it support sanctions? Does Bloomberg's citation of a norm that certain personal situations are one's own to disclose get him off the hook? Does affirmatively suggesting other reasons rather than simply failing to disclose the actual ones cross another line entirely?

 Bottom line: in many locations within the social, institutional, moral orders, the import of information behaviors goes far beyond the instrumental, consequential, substantive realm.

 * The case is not being pursued as Mr. Goldsmith's wife dropped the complaint.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Information Control and Politics: Not Just "Over There"

August 13, 2011
Transit officials blocked cellphone reception in San Francisco train stations for three hours to disrupt planned demonstrations over a police shooting.
Officials with the Bay Area Rapid Transit system, better known as BART, said Friday that they turned off electricity to cellular towers in four stations from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday. The move was made after BART learned that protesters planned to use mobile devices to coordinate a demonstration on train platforms. ... <MORE>

Thursday, July 21, 2011

This is your Background Check on Steroids

An article, "Social Media History Becomes a New Job Hurdle," by Jennifer Preston in yesterday's NYT is obvious fodder for the sociology of information.  It's primarily about Social Intelligence, a web start up that puts together dossiers about potential employees for its clients by "scraping" the internet.

Issues that show up here:
  • the federal government (FTC) was looking into whether the company's practices might violate the fair credit reporting act (FCRA), but determined it was in compliance
  • "privacy advocates" said to be concerned that it might encourage employers to consider information not relevant to job performance (why not fair employment advocates? -- later in the article we do find mention of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)
  • what do we make of the statement: "Things that you can’t ask in an interview are the same things you can’t research"?
  • since this is really just an extension of the idea of the "background check" -- can we think a little more systematically about that as a general idea prior to getting mired in details of internet presence searches?
Perhaps more alarming than the mere question of information surfacing was the suggestion by the company's founder, Max Drucker, about how a given bit of scraped information might be interpreted.  To wit, he mentioned fact that a person had joined a particular Facebook group might "mean you don’t like people who don’t speak English."  According the reporter he posed this question rhetorically: "Does that mean...?"  This little bit of indirect marketing via fear mongering adds another layer to what we need to look at: what sort of information processing (including interpretation and assessment) are necessary in a world where larger and larger amounts of information are available (cf. CIA problem of turning acquired information into intelligence via analysis).

Drucker characterized the company's goal as "to conduct pre-employment screenings that would help companies meet their obligation to conduct fair and consistent hiring practices while protecting the privacy of job candidates."  This raises another interesting question: if an agent has a mandated responsibility for some level of due diligence and information is, technically, available, will a company necessarily sprout up to collect and provide this information?  Where would feasibility, cost, and the uncertainty of interpretation enter the equation?  Can the employer, for example, err on the side of caution and exclude the individual who joined the Facebook group because that fact MIGHT mean something that the employer could be liable for not having discovered?  Will another company emerge that helps to assess the likelihood of false positives or false negatives?  What about if it is only a matter of what the company wants in terms of its corporate culture?  Can we calculate the cost (perhaps in terms of loss of human capital, recruitment costs, etc.) of such technically assisted vigilance?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Anonymity and the Demise of the Ephemeral

The New York Times email update had the right headline "Upending Anonymity, These Days the Web Unmasks Everyone" but made a common mistake in the blurb: "Pervasive social media services, cheap cellphone cameras, free photo and video Web hosts have made privacy all but a thing of the past."

It's going to be important in our policy conversations in coming months and years to get a handle on the difference between privacy and anonymity (and others such as confidentiality) and how we think about rights to, and expectations of, each.

There's a long continuum of social information generation/acquisition/transmission along which these various phenomena can be located:
  • artifactual "evidence" can suggest that someone did something (an outburst on a bus, a car  broken into, a work of art created)
  • meta-evidence provides identity trace information about the person who did something (a fingerprint, a CCTV picture, DNA, an IP address, brush strokes)
  • trace evidence can be tied to an identity (fingerprints on file, for example)
  • data links can suggest other information about a person so identified
Technology is making each of these easier, faster, cheaper and more plentiful.  From the point of view of the question, whodunnit?, we seem to be getting collectively more intelligent: we can zero in on the authorship of action more than ever before.  But that really hasn't much to do with "privacy," per se.

As Dave Morgan suggests in OnlineSpin (his hook was Facebook's facial recognition technology that allows faces in new photos to be automatically tagged based on previously tagged photos a user has posted) the capacity to connect the dots is a bit like recognizing a famous person on the street, and this, he notes, has nothing to do with privacy.

What it does point to is that an informational characteristic of public space is shifting.  One piece of this is the loss of ephemerality, a sharp increase in the half-life of tangible traces.  Another is, for want of a better term on this very hot morning in Palo Alto, "linkability"; once one piece of information is linked to another, it can easily be linked again.  And this compounds the loss of ephemerality that arises from physical recording alone.

From the point of view of the question asked above, the change can mean "no place to hide," but from the point of view of the answer, it might mean that the path to publicity is well-paved and short.

Some celebrate on both counts as a sort of modernist "the truth will out" or post-modernist Warholesque triumph.  But as pleased as we might be at the capacity of the net to ferret out the real story (the recent unmasking of "Gay Girl in Damascus" yet another example), the same structure can have the opposite effect.  The web also has immense capacity for the proliferation and petrification of falsehood (see, for example, Fine and Ellis 2010 or Sunstein 2009).

Thus, it may well be that the jury is still out on the net effect on the information order.

See also :"No Such Thing as Evanescent Data"

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

animal diminutives

At the risk of straying too far off the sociology of information trail, may I report a conversation from this morning's ride down to CASBS and request your assistance?

My ride partner mentioned a conversation with a "cub reporter" the other day.  Why, we wondered, is Ursus the right genus for journalists?  And what animal diminutives do we use for other professions?

If baby sharks are called pups, should new law firm associates be called pups? And those just getting started out in the human smuggling business? How about beginner loan sharks?  Or sleazy wheeler dealers at the start of their career: snakelets? Hatchlings?

If an editor has an eagle eye, is an editorial trainee a eaglet? Do others come to mind?

And back to the journalists: why are they bears?  OED gives first occurrence as 1899 J. L. Williams in Scribner's Mag.25 277 "The cub reporter and the king of Spain." and lists two other "cubs": engineer and (river boat) pilot (both from M. Twain. And one of the definitions of "cub" is "An undeveloped, uncouth, unpolished youth" with the explanation that it comes from the idea that "the young of the bear was fabled to be born in a shapeless condition, and afterwards licked into shape by the mother" and the earliest usage is Shakespeare in "Twelfth Night" (1623).

So, let me put the question out there -- do you know of any other animal diminutives that we apply to beginners in various professions or trades?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Adding Sociology of Information Blogs to the Blog Roll

Up to now our sidebar included the names of blogs that linked to The Sociology of Information. Now that the field has started to achieve something of a latent critical mass out there, I'm evolving the blog roll in the direction of "other blogs on the topic" which is really more useful.

First entry is Drew Conway's Zero Intelligent Agents blog. Drew is a PhD student in political science at New York University who studies terrorism and armed conflict using tools from mathematics and computer science. Much of the material on the blog is more on the techie side of things (it's an extremely useful resource in this regard) but interspersed with news about python routines and R utilities is much grist for the sociologist of information's mill.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Toward a Wikipedia of Sociology

Every few years one gets a request from the editor of an encyclopedia of social theory or globalization or social research.  Some publisher has succumbed to the idea that a new compendium is needed and some senior scholar has succumbed to the idea that "the time has come...."  Or, some senior scholar has managed to cajole some junior scholar into doing most of the work on a project that will bear the senior scholar's name.  OK, that last might be a little harsh.  What's next is someone conjures up a list of usual suspects (or, more likely, a series of database searches produces such a list).  Then someone sets up a content management system and an editor at the publisher solicits articles on behalf of the senior scholar editor -- usually with promise of a complimentary copy of the finished volume(s) as an honorarium

I wonder, though, if the days of this genre are numbered.  Would it not make sense to create an encyclopedia of sociology for and by card-carrying sociologists?  Mightn't crowd-sourcing disciplinary knowledge be superior to the limited intellectual resources represented by centrally selected article authors and the limited review of a small handful of editors?  I mean, the typical encyclopedia article probably has fewer peer reviews than most articles get.

What if a professional association opened up a wiki with a single restriction: you have to be a member to edit and you have to edit under your own identity.  Beyond that, no central control.

To be realistic, this is probably much more openness and flexibility than most professional associations could ever tolerate.  There'd have to be a committee of members and probably a report to the executive committee or something like that that would turn the endeavor into as close a clone of the traditional encyclopedia as possible.

So, maybe what has to happen is that the project has to start with a small group of renegades.  And so, just by way of testing the waters, that's what I am proposing.

You sociologists out there, are you game?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Reinventing Research? Information Practices in the Humanities

[re-blogged from Resource Connection : April 26, 2011]

A project of the Research Information Network (RIN) focuses on the behaviours and needs of researchers working in  the humanities.The goal of RIN study is to:
  • "develop an in-depth understanding of humanities researchers’ approaches to discovering, accessing, analysing, managing, creating, reļ¬ning and disseminating information resources;
  • "provide comparisons between the behaviours and needs of researchers in different subjects/disciplines, research teams or institutional contexts;
  • "identify barriers to more effective performance in using, creating, managing and exchanging information resources, and suggest how they might be overcome."

The report is based on interviews and focus groups with academics responsible for digital humanities projects such as Old Bailey Online, Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music, and The Digital Republic of Letters, projects they've arrayed in a two dimensional attribute space defined by computational complexity and collaborative complexity:

 The report is available to download from Information use: case studies in the humanities - Report

Friday, April 22, 2011

No Such Thing as Evanescent Data

Pretty good coverage of the "iphone keeps track of where you've been" story in today's NYT "Inquiries Grow Over Apple’s Data Collection Practices" and in David Pogue's column yesterday ("Your iPhone Is Tracking You. So What?"). Not surprisingly, devices that have GPS capability (or even just cell tower triangulation capability) write the information down. Given how cheap and plentiful memory is, not surprising that they do so in ink.

This raises a generic issue: evanescent data (information that is detected, perhaps "acted" upon, and then discarded) will become increasingly rare.  We should not be surprised that our machines rarely allow information to evaporate and it is important to note that this is not the same as saying that any particular big brother (or sister) is watching.  Like their human counterparts, a machine that can "pay attention" is likely to remember -- if my iPhone always know where it is, why wouldn't it remember where it's been? 

It's the opposite of provenience that matters -- not where the information came from but where it might go to.  Behavior always leaves traces -- what varies is the degree to which the trace can be tied to its "author" and how easy or difficult it is to collect the traces and observe or extract patterns they may contain.  These reports suggest that the data has always been there, but was relatively difficult to access.  It's only recently that, ironically, due to the work of the computer scientists who "outed" Apple, that there is an easy way to get at the information.

Setting aside the issue of nefarious intentions, we are reminded of the time-space work of the human geographers such as Nigel Thrift and Tommy Carlstein who did small scale studies of the space-time movements of people in local communities in the 1980s and since. And, too, we are reminded of the 2008 controversy stirred up when some scientists studying social networks used anonymized cell phone data on 100,000 users in an unnamed country.

Of course, the tracking of one's device is not the same as the tracking of oneself.  We can imagine iPhones that travel the world like that garden gnome in Amelie and people being proud not just of their own travels but where there phone has been. 

See also
  1. Technologically Induced Social Alzheimers
  2. Information Rot

Data Exhaust and Informational Efficiency

Heard an interesting talk by Paul Kedrosky a few weeks ago at PARC titled Data Exhaust, Ladders, and Search.

The gist of the talk is that human behaviors of all kinds leave traces which constitute latent datasets about that activity. Social scientists have long had a name for gathering this type of data: unobtrusive observation. Perhaps the most famous example is looking at carpet wear in a museum as a way of figuring out which exhibits captured the most visitor attention or garbology and related "trace measures used by anthropologist W. Rathje in the 70s and 80s.

One of Kedrosky's nicer examples was comparing aerial view of Wimbledon center court at the end of a recent tournament with one from the 1970s. The total disappearance of the net game from professional tennis was clearly visible in the wear patterns on the grass court.

In addition to a number of neat examples (ladders found on highways as indicator of housing bubble was a favorite) of using various techniques to capture "data exhaust" (indeed, he suggests, it's the entire principle behind google), he asks the question: What are the consequences of an instrumented planet? That is, a planet on which more and more data exhaust is captured and analyzed, permitting better decisions and more efficient choices.

In fact, one of the comments on Kedrosky's blog post about the talk (by one J Slack) suggests a continuing move toward "informational efficiency" -- with more and more instrumentation generating data and more and more connectivity, he suggests, "we'll be continuously approaching an asymptotic efficiency, though never quite getting there."

A standard definition of informational efficiency is "the speed and accuracy with which prices reflect new information" (  But there is some circularity here -- in this context it's only information if it does affect the price, otherwise it's mere noise.  And so we're still left with the challenge of sorting out the signal from the noise even after the data has been extracted from the exhaust.  And the more of everything the more of a job it is.

Bottom line: I think "data exhaust" is a great concept, but I don't think perfecting its capture and analysis gets you to a fully efficient use of information about the world (even asymptotically).  The second law of thermodynamics kicks in along the way for starters, but the boundedness of human cognition finishes the job.

Somebody is probably going to point out that evolution already does this (that is, it's the most unobtrusive data collection method of all).  But it takes big numbers and lots of time to do it and the result, though beautiful, is messy.

More to think about here, to be sure.

See Also (2014)

Johnson, Steven. "What a Hundred Million Calls to 311 Reveal About New York." Wired Magazine 11.01.10

Sunday, March 06, 2011

radio + internet + letter to your senator = democracy in action

This project, reported by WNYC and npr's On the Media is one of the best uses of web crowd sourcing I've heard about.

They ask listeners across the country to write their senator asking whether s/he placed a particular anonymous hold and then to submit the response. To date they collected 96 written denials and four "it's none of your business!". Step two is to reword the question and have residents of four states pose them in writing. Rather brilliant.

I also love the implicit claim to inequality in the "it is our privilege to keep secrets from our constituents" stance. This is what Gillian and I are writing about in our paper "Democracy and the Information Order."

Monday, February 21, 2011

Sociology of Information in the News

A flurry of sociology of information items in today's New York Times:

  1. "Book Lovers Fear Dim Future for Notes in the Margins"
  2. In a digital world, scholars see an uncertain fate for an old and valued practice.
  3. "Blogs Wane as the Young Drift to Sites Like Twitter"
  4. Long-form blogs were once the outlet of choice, but now sites like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr are favored.
  5. "TV Industry Taps Social Media to Keep Viewers’ Attention"
  6. As more and more people chat on Facebook and Twitter while watching TV, networks are trying to figure out how to capitalize.
  7. "100 Years Later, the Roll of the Dead in a Factory Fire Is Complete"
  8. For the first time, the names of all the victims in the 1911 Triangle Waist Company fire will be read after a researcher’s identification of six unknown victims.

Information and the Humanities

New York Times reporter Patricia Cohen has been on the "ideas and intellectual life" beat for sometime and has recently produced some excellent pieces of potential interest to the sociologist of information:

  1. A Digital Future for the Founding Fathers." January 30, 2011. The University of Virginia Press is in the process of putting the published papers of Washington, Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Franklin on a free Web site.
  2. "Scholars Recruit Public for Project." December 27, 2010. A project in London is using crowd-sourcing to transcribe 40,000 unpublished manuscripts of the Enlightenment philosopher Jeremy Bentham.
  3. "In 500 Billion Words, New Window on Culture." December 16, 2010. A Google-backed project allows the frequency of specific words and phrases to be tracked in centuries of books.
  4. "Digital Keys for Unlocking the Humanities’ Riches." November 16, 2010. Digitally savvy scholars are exploring how technology can enhance understanding of the liberal arts.
  5. "Analyzing Literature by Words and Numbers." December 3, 2010.  A computer-generated process gives scholars a view into Victorian thought.