Tuesday, August 5, 2014

2,600 years of migration and cultural history

Here is one new study to feature in the list of demographic papers published on Science and Nature. Using free databases with the date and place of birth and death of around 150,000 notable individuals (caveat: biased towards Europe and US), Maximilian and his colleagues were able to analyze the migration patterns of those notable individuals over the last 2,600 years (between 600 bc and 2012). 

Schich, Maximilian, et al. (2014) "A network framework of cultural history." science 345.6196 : 558-562. (ungated version here)

The emergent processes driving cultural history are a product of complex interactions among large numbers of individuals, determined by difficult-to-quantify historical conditions. To characterize these processes, we have reconstructed aggregate intellectual mobility over two millennia through the birth and death locations of more than 150,000 notable individuals. The tools of network and complexity theory were then used to identify characteristic statistical patterns and determine the cultural and historical relevance of deviations. The resulting network of locations provides a macroscopic perspective of cultural history, which helps us to retrace cultural narratives of Europe and North America using large-scale visualization and quantitative dynamical tools and to derive historical trends of cultural centers beyond the scope of specific events or narrow time intervals.

The video abstract is also jaw dropping :)

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