This analysis of modern history is a prime example of why big data really matters

Photo by DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images

Summary: A researcher has analyzed the past 35 years of world history in order to find periods most similar to present-day Ukraine and Arab-Spring-era Egypt. It’s a great example of the power of big data to point us in the direction of how to solve complicated problems.

We might be tiring of the term big data, but there’s still a lot of value to be squeezed from the concept. This is true even in its purest form, where we’re doing relatively simple operations on a mountain of data in order to see if there’s a notable trend or correlation in there.

The latest example of why this is true comes from GDELT, the massive geosocial-event database that’s now housed in Google’s cloud. Its creator, Georgetown professor Kalev Leetaru, has analyzed the Arab Spring uprising in Egypt, as well as the current situation in Ukraine, against data dating back to 1979 in an attempt to answer the question of whether history really does repeat itself.

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