Pantheon: Visualizing the Structure and Dynamics of Global Cultural Production

Yu, A. Z. " Pantheon: Visualizing the Structure and Dynamics of Global Cultural Production"


Cultural information influences the human experience across all scales - it is embodied in the institutions, beliefs, and technologies that shape our daily lives, it influences the advancement of industrial capacities, public services, and governance, and it impacts the trajectory of global development. While previous efforts have introduced various attempts for quantifying culture, we lack more direct measures of global cultural production"measures that enumerate the cultural contributions that have emerged throughout time, connected to geographies and languages. This thesis introduces a new approach for quantifying culture through a dataset and visualization platform for creating and visualizing metrics of global cultural production, defined as the cultural accomplishments that have broken the barriers of space, time and language. To develop measures of cultural production, I generate a dataset with the 11,340 biographies present in more than 25 languages on Wikipedia"the largest multilingual encyclopedia on the planet"and link each biography to a cultural domain, place of birth, and time period. We make this data available to public audiences via Pantheon, a platform for exploring the dataset through dynamic and interactive visualizations. I validate the dataset using accepted measures of recognition in various cultural domains, and I evaluate Pantheon by testing the significance of the patterns that it reveals within the structure and dynamics of global cultural production. Ultimately, the goal of this dataset and visualization engine is to motivate further work that builds on the measures of cultural achievements introduced by this thesis.

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