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About the Project

About the Project

The spread of ideas in the age of the Internet is a double-edged sword; it can enhance our collective welfare as well as produce forces that can destabilize the world.This project aims at understanding the process by which the impact of a single event or idea disperses throughout the world over time and space. Dramatic events, especially when reported through the new media of cyberspace, have the potential to transform ideas into realities, in ways that can either inform or inflame the public passions.

In the first step of this project, we will first identify some exemplars of potentially significant event episodes (e.g., Jihadi terrorism, hate group or militia activities, natural disasters, disease outbreaks, etc.) by developing a semantic map through identifying the words and phrases that characterize sites related to these events.In the second phase of the project, we will collect data on the spread of these words and phrases through web sites over time and space. By plotting chronological geographic paths, we aim to test the hypothesis that the spread of ideas is not random. That is, there are places, which are more prone to host these sites (and accept and spread an idea) than others over time. In the third phase of the project, we will perform statistical analyses to understand the reasons for particular trajectories along which an idea spreads. In other words,we will identify factors that cause “susceptibility” of and “immunity” from a particular set of ideas.

This project will continue for four years collecting and analyzing data and thereby developing a theoretical structure on the spread of ideas or events of interest (e.g., impacts of diseases or disasters). In summary, this project seeks to map both the geography and the chronology of ideas over cyberspace, as the ripples of information usage radiate outward from a given event epicenter. By mapping and analyzing such ripples, new insights will be provided into the role of new media in biasing, accelerating, impeding, or otherwise influencing personal, social and political uses of such information.

SWARMS Framework (2010 – 2012)

VISION Framework ( 2012 – present )

Resources : Centers : CESAR


The Stephen and Mary Birch Foundation Center for Earth Systems Analysis Research (CESAR) is a computer-based research and instruction facility administered by the Department of Geography.The purpose of the Center is to apply state-of-the-art technology in image processing, remote sensing, geographic information systems, automated cartography and numerical modeling to problems with a spatial dimension (credit saindou). Research conducted by the CESAR is directed at both applied and fundamental problems in fields ranging from biophysical remote sensing to urban planning.The project server is maintained and hosted in the CESAR lab, a facility within the geography department.


Project Dell Server Specifications:

Processor: PowerEdge R710

Memory: 32GB memory (8x4GB), 1333 MHz Dual Ranked RDIMMs

Video Card: Intel Xeon X5660, 2.8Ghz, 12M Cache

Operating System: Windows Server 2008SP2 Standard x64

Additionally: 300GB 10K RPM Serial-Attach SCSI 6Gbps 2.5in Hotplug HD


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