Events

Cosponsors
  • Center for Science and Society
  • The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
  • Dean of Social Science at Columbia University
  • Brown Institute for Media Innovation
  • The Leibniz Fund

The workshop will bring together two communities: 1) historians of science and technology dealing with Big Data and its many history predecessors, and 2) scholars drawing upon many of the techniques of text mining, social network analysis, and other analytical tools associated with Big Data. It will be one of the inaugural events of Columbia's new Center for Science and Society.

Historians of data offer greater analytical purchase on the limitations and dangers of the collection and analysis of different forms of data. They likewise serve as a powerful correction to historical myopia about “big data” today. Data-focused computational historians work with techniques well-suited to the volume of historical records often common in the last two centuries and illuminating applied to traditional historical sources such as learned correspondence. This workshop aims to foster a greater critical literacy around data by drawing together these two sets of competencies that too rarely overlap. This workshop would critically examine the techniques for the study of historical evidence and the creation of histories of large-scale objects previously resistant to more traditional methods within the history of science by pushing the start of art of tools in computational history. It also hopes to use the critical acuity central to the history of science and technology to help refine our computational tools; better to understand their limits and to improve upon them. The goal is not simply mutual critique, but the sharpening of tools and methodologies, qualitative and quantitative.

This workshop is by invite only with the reading of precirculated papers. To request papers and attendance, please email Professor Matthew Jones, James R. Barker Professor of Contemporary Civilization at Columbia University.

The workshop is made possible with the suppport of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Program

April 17, 2015  Friday

8:30am - 9:00am EDT

Welcome and Introduction

9:00am - 10:30am EDT

Panel I
Data Culture: Historical Methods for the Digital Age

Hallam Stevens

Assistant Professor of History

Nanyang Technological University

Statistically Discriminating Without Discrimination: The History of Data Analytics

Martha Poon

Fellow

Institute for Data & Society

Powerpoint and Excel: Representational Strategies, Work Practices, and the 'Affordances' of Mundane Electronic Documents.

Janet Vertesi

Assistant Professor in Sociology

Princeton University

Commentator

Alex Wellerstein

Assistant Professor of Science and Technology Studies

Stevens Institute of Technology

Commentator

Frank Pasquale

Professor of Law

University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law

Commentator

Lev Manovich

Professor of Computer Science

The Graduate Center, City University of New York

10:30am - 10:45am EDT

Break I

10:45am - 3:00pm EDT

Panel II
Policing Birth: Black Midwives and the Politics of Vital Statistics

Wangui Muigai

Graduate Student in the History of Science

Princeton University

Lies, Damned Lies, and (Bourgeois) Statistics: Ascertaining Social Fact

Arunabh Ghosh

Assistant Professor of History

Harvard University

TBA

Scott Klein

Director of News Applications Desk

ProPublica

The Chemical History of Graph Theory

Evan Hepler-Smith

Graduate Student, History of Science

Princeton University

Model Users

Frank Pasquale

Professor of Law

University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law

The Exceptional and the Everyday: 144 Hours in Kiev

Lev Manovich

Professor of Computer Science

The Graduate Center, City University of New York

Commentator

Joanna Radin

Assistant Professor in the History of Medicine, of Anthropology and of History

Yale University

Commentator

Henry Cowles

Assistant Professor

Yale University

Commentator

Patrick McCray

Professor

University of California, Santa Barbara

Commentator

Megan Finn

Assistant Professor

Information School, University of Washington

Commentator

Manfred Laubichler

President’s Professor of Theoretical Biology and History of Biology

Arizona State University

3:00pm - 3:30pm EDT

Break II

3:30pm - 4:25pm EDT

Panel III
"I am so anxious to hear": Accounting for people after the 1906

Megan Finn

Assistant Professor

Information School, University of Washington

Big Methods: William Whewell, Charles Peirce, and the Logic of Science

Henry Cowles

Assistant Professor

Yale University

Commentator

Wangui Muigai

Graduate Student in the History of Science

Princeton University

Commentator

David Sepkoski

Research Scholar

Max Planck Institute for the History of Science

April 18, 2015  Saturday

8:30am - 9:00am EDT

Welcome and Introduction

9:00am - 10:30am EDT

Panel I
That is not Why

Stephanie Dick

Junior Fellow in the Society of Fellows

Harvard University

Linking data in the History of Mathematics

Frédéric Brechenmacher

Professor of History of Science and Technology

Ecole Polytechnique

Computational Perspectives in the History of Science and Leveraging Truth

Manfred Laubichler

President’s Professor of Theoretical Biology and History of Biology

Arizona State University

Commentator

Arunabh Ghosh

Assistant Professor of History

Harvard University

Commentator

Dennis Tenen

Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature

Columbia University

Commentator

Fred Gibbs

Assistant Professor

University of New Mexico History Department

10:30am - 9:45am EDT

Break I

10:45am - 12:00pm EDT

Panel II
Off the Rez: How Indigenous Bodies Became 'Big Data'

Joanna Radin

Assistant Professor in the History of Medicine, of Anthropology and of History

Yale University

Addressing the data gap: What digital tools do archival historians need, and how can we get them?

Alex Wellerstein

Assistant Professor of Science and Technology Studies

Stevens Institute of Technology

Commentator

Martha Poon

Fellow

Institute for Data & Society

Commentator

Frédéric Brechenmacher

Professor of History of Science and Technology

Ecole Polytechnique

12:00pm - 1:30pm EDT

Break II

1:30pm - 2:30pm EDT

Panel III
The Biggest Data of All: Making and Sharing a Digital Universe

Patrick McCray

Professor

University of California, Santa Barbara

The Database Before the Computer?

David Sepkoski

Research Scholar

Max Planck Institute for the History of Science

Commentator

Evan Hepler-Smith

Graduate Student, History of Science

Princeton University

Commentator

Stephanie Dick

Junior Fellow in the Society of Fellows

Harvard University

2:30pm - 2:45pm EDT

Break III

2:45pm - 4:15pm EDT

Panel IV and Wrap Session
Re-viewing Data

Fred Gibbs

Assistant Professor

University of New Mexico History Department

We Have Always Been Digital

Dennis Tenen

Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature

Columbia University

Commentator

Hallam Stevens

Assistant Professor of History

Nanyang Technological University

Commentator

Janet Vertesi

Assistant Professor in Sociology

Princeton University

Participants
  • Frédéric Brechenmacher Professor of History of Science and Technology Ecole Polytechnique
  • Henry Cowles Assistant Professor Yale University
  • Stephanie Dick Junior Fellow in the Society of Fellows Harvard University
  • Megan Finn Assistant Professor Information School, University of Washington
  • Arunabh Ghosh Assistant Professor of History Harvard University
  • Fred Gibbs Assistant Professor University of New Mexico History Department
  • Evan Hepler-Smith Graduate Student, History of Science Princeton University
  • Matthew L. Jones James R. Barker Professor of Contemporary Civilization Columbia University
  • Scott Klein Director of News Applications Desk ProPublica
  • Manfred Laubichler President’s Professor of Theoretical Biology and History of Biology Arizona State University
  • Lev Manovich Professor of Computer Science The Graduate Center, City University of New York
  • Patrick McCray Professor University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Wangui Muigai Graduate Student in the History of Science Princeton University
  • Frank Pasquale Professor of Law University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law
  • Martha Poon Fellow Institute for Data & Society
  • Joanna Radin Assistant Professor in the History of Medicine, of Anthropology and of History Yale University
  • David Sepkoski Research Scholar Max Planck Institute for the History of Science
  • Hallam Stevens Assistant Professor of History Nanyang Technological University
  • Dennis Tenen Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature Columbia University
  • Janet Vertesi Assistant Professor in Sociology Princeton University
  • Alex Wellerstein Assistant Professor of Science and Technology Studies Stevens Institute of Technology