The Paul Revere article by Kieran Healy was really fun to read, the authors style was different from anyone else’s and he basically prided himself in not knowing anything about Paul Revere except what he was able to extract from the data. The author also explains what relational matter is her methods of collecting data and that shows the links between people and Paul Revere. It was interesting seeing all the connections that linked back to him and I think Kieran Healy is saying that it’s data can help the understanding of history and vice versa but they will still need each other to have a genuine understanding of what you’re looking at. A really cool article
I found on metadata this week also has to do with traveling and messages being sent. Author Neal Ungerleider says, “metadata in twitter posts lets readers in on your geographic location, the language you speak, the phone you use, and more. They’re also a mapmaker’s best friend.” He was able to distinguish who was a local and who was a tourist and then map out who went where. As someone who lived in New York for five years, I never once went to the statue of liberty, and on the map one can see that it is a huge tourist hot spot. Its kind of weird how you really don’t have to have any pre-conceived notions to collect data. You can know nothing, like Healy claims and then discover a wealth of knowledge or at least facts that might help lead to some sort of conclusion. It’s a lot like science where you can have a hypothesis and then look for results (data) and then compare what you found out. The last paragraph of the Paul Revere article does mention the power of data could be used to control people and that data could become like a “weapon.” I feel like that is something we should definitely watch out and it’s kind of how ads try their best to find an extremely specific target market. With social network analysis come great responsibilities I guess you could say. If you can find connections and common themes such as the amount of people who visited with a single person (Paul Revere) then you can also find out things like Ungerleider did when he mapped out where different languages are spoken just based of Twitter. While some of it may seem obvious, like Chinese being heavily used in Chinatown, it can also illuminate things that where not being observed before which is why digital humanities is so cool. You get to look at the world in a new way which is what Healy is trying to show us.