Mapping Cyberspace to Realspace
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.
Traditional approaches to understanding the spread of impacts of ideas or events are based on 20th century media—such as newsletters, advertisements, physically proximal group meetings, and telephone conversations. With new media, however, it is possible there are geographic and chronological patterns that coincide to reveal the nature of significant events and the ways in which information about these events is consumed and used by those engaged with such media. 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. This project can be explained with the help of a few key examples.
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