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The Future of Political Science Just Showed Up
April 11, 2013 8:04 AM   Subscribe

GDELT data is now publicly available. GDELT stands for Global Data on Events, Location and Tone, and is a dataset that contains information on over 200 million geolocated events.

Political scientists are ecstatic, describing this free datset as "revolutionary" and that it will inspire "a thousand dissertations." Others call it a "game-changer".

According to the magazine Foreign Policy, GDELT includes "everything from a riot over food prices in Khartoum, to a suicide bombing in Sri Lanka, to a speech by the president of Paraguay."

"It's the sheer size," says the dataset's author Kalev Leetaru, when asked what makes the project unique. "And the resolution. It's not just saying an event took place in Syria. It's saying who did what to whom. It will tell us that it was the military who attacked Christian civilians in this city on this day. If the article says it was worshippers who were attacked in their church, that will all be captured."

You can download this NSF funded data here.
posted by MisantropicPainforest (11 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
the last link automatically starts downloading a 637 mb file, fyi.
posted by desjardins at 8:07 AM on April 11, 2013


This is good Big Data, now if they can make it into Long Data we're golden. Same database but going back to 2000 BC. More on Big Data, the experts may be excited but could be their demise. And beware the Big Errors. How Big Data Became So Big. This is really a FPP worthy topic.
posted by stbalbach at 8:18 AM on April 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


stbalbach,

I agree with your general point, but with regard to Political Science, having long timeframes is really problematic. The political structure changes too much. For example, there was an article in the discipline's flagship journal, the American Political Science Review, that argued that there was no 'resource curse' due to oil. In effect that oil had no negative effective on a country's level of democracy.

The dataset went all the way back to 1800. What they missed was that, while there was no resource curse affiliated with oil from 1800-1970, after 1970 all that changed. Long data may be useful, but there are severe limitations with regard to political matters.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:23 AM on April 11, 2013


Well, future of IR anyway, says the Americanist.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:08 AM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


And comparative!
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:12 AM on April 11, 2013


For the casual data nerds, could someone post the first ten or so items of the data set here, so we don't download the whole half Gb file? Thanks.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:06 AM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


benito.strauss: "For the casual data nerds, could someone post the first ten or so items of the data set here, so we don't download the whole half Gb file? Thanks."

There's this cool utility called httpfs that lets you browse remote files as if they were local.

Here's a very short terminal session where I look at the contents of GDELT.
posted by vasi at 11:13 AM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Here's a very short terminal session ...

This guy running Windows thanks you.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:35 AM on April 11, 2013


The data contains a column labelled "Goldstein Scale". Here's what that means.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:46 AM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is really great and interesting, does anyone know of any preliminary work that has been done using similar data sets? Or earlier versions of this? Much could be revealed with this of course, but isn't there also an assumption that more is better here. Maybe the data causes political scientists to become data obsessed?
posted by fraxture at 8:28 AM on April 12, 2013


The Covariates of War dataset has been used in a lot lot lot of works.

Maybe the data causes political scientists to become data obsessed?

The incentives for working with data (easier publications, better jobs, better money etc etc etc) are what cause political scientists to be data obsessed!
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:48 AM on April 12, 2013


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