Harnessing the Data Revoluton for Vermont: The Science of Online Corpora, Knowledge, and Stories (SOCKS)
SOCKS will advance initiatives grounded in principled methods through the quantitative measurement of sentiment and stories across a diverse portfolio of corpora. It will also provide new insights into the power and use of stories and narratives across a broad array of social, economic and health domains through integrated data and teams.
.Socks Current Research
In astronomy and biology, the telescope and the microscope helped us describe phenomena far beyond our limitations, opening up vast new scientific realms. With the SOCKS program, we’re working to do the same for stories by building and refining instruments that can ‘distantly read’ and make sense of enormous collections of texts, whether they be libraries of books, streaming social media, or Vermont folktales from the 1800s. We need to understand how stories evolve and spread, the effects stories have on populations, and with SOCKS, we will help grow a measurement-first science of stories.
Language is humanity’s greatest social technology. While we’ve been communicating for thousands of years, it is only recently that we’ve begun sharing content online—posting selfies, searching for validation, and expressing our uninformed opinions in hot takes and quote tweets. Making sense of all that is being said is a tall order, best suited to a suite of algorithms. Computers can digest bits of language and help us describe, explain, and understand cultural phenomenon at the scale of human populations. The StoryWrangler instrument reflects our first step towards wrestling the day’s events into coherence. It is an approximate daily leaderboard for language popularity around the globe. More...
It’s what most people say they want. So how do we know how happy people are? You can’t improve or understand what you can’t measure. In a blow to happiness, we’re very good at measuring economic indices and this means we tend to focus on them. With our flagship instrument at hedonometer.org we’ve created an instrument that measures the happiness of large populations in near real time. We also link to applications of the instrument to literature, movies, and news. More...
Stories are an essential part of how people comprehend, explain, predict, and seek to navigate the world. What are the fundamental kinds of stories? How do stories told through social networks influence our behavior? A powerful approach to quantifying the components of stories centers on enumerating the base units of n-grams—contiguous sequences of n words, including punctuation and other text elements in a body of writing—and how usages of and interactions between n-grams unfold over time.
We will host our kickoff strategic planning meeting in August of 2023, and planning to run workshops on the Science of Stories at UVM and the Santa Fe Institute in 2024.
We will be hiring tenure track academic positions with a focus on Computational Social Science, Digital Humanities, and Data Ethics with position announcements in Fall 2023 and 2024. We’ll also be hiring staff with a background in Data Science, Web Development, and Data Engineering. Formal position announcements are coming soon.