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An Ambitious Project to Track Global Political History

Christina Medici Scolaro
Big Data Download
An Ambitious Project to Track Global Political History

In an attempt to make society computable, records of 250 million events including wars, protests, and diplomatic missions dating to 1979 have been compiled in a database called GDELT, for global data on events, location and tone.

Kalev Leetaru, co-creator of GDELT, said it’s being used by academics and financial institutions as a kind of global daybook. The idea is to use it in true big data fashion, for example, loading everything publicly reported about the war in Afghanistan and looking for patterns to forecast future behavior.

Does having so many records ever become overwhelming? How much subsetting, massaging and aggregating does the data need for users to perform analysis?

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One user told Big Data Download that most people would have a hard time navigating GDELT, because it's not designed for most people to use. It's a system that's been designed to facilitate specific forms of professional research on political behavior.

Several billion pages of digitized books and other materials are expected to be added in the fall that will extend GDELT back to 1800.

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