Does big data have a history?

Client Sawyer Seminar/Mellon Foundation/Yale University Visit Site

The Order of Multitudes, a Mellon Sawyer Seminar for 2020-21 at Yale University, responds to this challenge by diving into the genealogy of big data. By studying the long history of attempts to contain data within the genres of atlas, encyclopedia, and museum, we hope to reimagine the making of universal knowledge as an inclusive, egalitarian, historically grounded, and ethically charged enterprise.

What is the relationship between facts and knowledge? What is “data diversity”? Is it a problem or an opportunity? Is the internet a democratic space?

These are the intellectual puzzles that animate our inquiry.

Big data promises an intellectual revolution, but it also brings us back to the fundamental questions at the heart of the human sciences. This Sawyer Seminar approaches such questions through the prism of three long-standing means of Ordering and gathering information.

Let’s talk.