Big data has accumulated quite the reputation. Many possibly exaggerated claims have been made about its potential. Nothing short of saving lives and the universe, of course. But can it rewrite history? This interesting topic was found on BBC News in their article, “Can computers replace historians?”

Probably not, but it is certainly working on the future and where the world is heading next. Using a tool called Google Big Query, designed for interrogating vast collections of data, scientists and historians can sift through a database of events stretching back to 1979. The project known as GDELT has collected media reports of events from innumerable sources in more than 100 languages for 35 years.

“What we did here,” Kaleev Leetaru, data scientist at Washington’s Georgetown University, explains, “was use this tool to shove in a quarter of a billion records and use this massive piece of software to just in a few minutes sift out the patterns in this data.” He found complex patterns of events repeating themselves over the years. Leetaru says that historians should see this tool as just another technique amongst many, rather than a threat to their professional expertise.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Access Innovations, the world leader in thesaurus, ontology, and taxonomy creation and metadata application.