Jean-Baptiste Michel's Uncharted: Through The Looking Glass

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In the first chapter of Ezra Aiden and Jean-Baptiste Michel’s book Uncharted, which is titled “Through the Looking Glass,” the authors introduce readers to the idea of big data as a means to gain insight to human culture. Initially, they ask the reader to imagine a robot that could read every page of every book in history and the knowledge that robot would wield. Utilizing this idea, they emphasize that the robot can discern examples of mundane-seeming changes in history, such as grammar usage to demonstrate a shift in a whole country’s thinking. They demonstrate additional examples of mundane-seeming events in history that led to great changes in the course of history to emphasize this idea in the next few sections. Bringing their idea modern relevance in the section “Big Data” the authors tell the exact amount of data that we leave in our “fingerprint” online on sites like Facebook or YouTube, thereby justifying their use of the aforementioned robot to record all this information in the section “The Digital Lens”. Finally, in the sections “Long Data” and the “Library of Everything” the authors explicitly explain the means by which they will attain this robot mentioned in the introduction, which is Google books. While in the subsequent section they recount the hardships faced on their journey they end on a positive and hopeful note in “Culturnomics,” providing a thorough and entertaining introduction to their book chronicling their groundbreaking

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