Meet the computer scientist trying to digitize, analyze and visualize our past

Kalev Leetaru

We have written many times over the years about the potential benefits of easy access to data and computing, but we’ve probably never done it this well.

The guest on this week’s Structure Show podcast was Kalev Leetaru (pictured above), the Georgetown researcher behind the Global Database of Events, Language and Tones (GDELT), which we have covered before, and who also helped the Internet Archive with the book-digitization project it unveiled this week. Leetaru, who has spent time programming supercomputers, talks all about the amazing shifts currently underway in information technology that let people gather, store and analyze data with no physical gear and just a few lines (or a single line) of SQL code.

Turkey-1998-12-21-1999-02-19

One of Leetaru’s recent projects analyzed the 120 days surrounding the ouster of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych in order to find the most-similar 120-day periods globally over the past 35 years.

There are no highlights this week because, frankly, it wasn’t easy to find any in what’s essentially a 30-minute TED talk about the promise of cloud computing and big data. Listen, learn something and, if you’re new to these areas or to computer science, maybe be inspired by the pace of progress.

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