University of Vermont

Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR)

INQUIRY 2016 Research, Scholarship and the Arts at UVM

Big Data & Societal Trends

Big Data and Beyond

Peter Dodds and Christopher Danforth

All Languages Skew Toward Happiness

Was Eric Idle right? Does language itself really look on the bright side of life? A study of hundreds of billions of words — led by professors Dodds and Danforth — says: yes, indeed. Read full story

For Peter Dodds, Ph.D., and Christopher Danforth, Ph.D., "big data" — the use of extremely large and complex data sets — is a highly effective tool for gauging the likes, dislikes, and general interests of society. Their examinations of the tenor of societal happiness as felt through Twitter has drawn worldwide interest.

Their November 2015 publication in PLOS One, "Characterizing the Google Books Corpus: Strong Limits to Inferences of Socio-Cultural and Linguistic Evolution," examined the reliability of another massive repository, Google Books, and argued that social scientists should be cautious when using data from this source to measure collective interests.