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Editors’ Choice: The Social Data Revolution will be Crowdsourced

Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, one quickly develops an allergy to any claim of a “revolution” in a particular field. But it is now abundantly clear to librarians, archivists, computer scientists, and many social scientists that we are in a transformational age. Terabytes of textual and video data are being created or scanned into existence everyday. While these data include silly tweets, they also include the archives of national libraries, news accounts of activities around the world, journal articles, online conversations, vital email correspondence, surveillance of crowds, videos of police encounters, and much more. If we can understand and measure meaning from all of these data describing so much of human activity, we will finally be able to test and revise our most intricate theories of how the world is socially constructed through our symbolic interactions.

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