Project (2013-2014)

Toward a Quantitative History of Data

The twenty-first century is a century of data. Our lives are tangled in webs of data, and tools for creating, storing, communicating, and manipulating this data have grown more sophisticated and ubiquitous. Even our self-understanding is mediated by data-analytic techniques. Yet the cultural and intellectual frameworks that underlie our present condition are substantially older, and their histories illuminate important aspects of the present. This project aimed to account for the emergence of the modern concept of "data" since the seventeenth century and its later development into an area of central cultural concern. The project employed both qualitative and quantitative methods and examined the implications of new data-driven approaches in humanities research.