Saturday, August 2, 2014

Mobility and Migration Patterns Through Time

migration mobility
US mobility patterns in 2011.
We are looking at animations of the movements of people tracked by various databases over time.

Researcher Dr. Maximilian Schich, associate professor of arts and technology at The University of Texas at Dallas, brought together a team of network and complexity scientists, including University of Miami physicist Chaoming Song, to create and quantify this animation (and apparently some others) that offers the "big picture" of European and North American cultural history.

tracked the movement of 150,000 'notable people around the world' from birth to death, then plotted their beginning and ending points as movements on a map.

The data stretched from 1600 until 2012. Apparently, they also tracked similar data back to the Roman Empire.

Naturally, people moved based on all sorts of reasons, such as wars, disease, new modes of transportation and the like. The animation shows that.

It is a unique peek into history that you can't find in a textbook or, for that matter, anywhere else. These kind of summaries of extensive data are history lessons in themselves.

migration mobility
This shows United States migration patterns over the past 150 years.
The data was taken from lists maintained by successful artists and intellectuals. One is the curated General Artist Lexicon that consists exclusively of artists and includes more than 150,000 names; the other is Freebase, with roughly 120,000 individuals, 2,200 of whom are artists. A third list, the Getty Union List of Artist Names, was used as a check on the other two.

migration mobility
This shows migration patterns in Europe in 2011. Notice how Paris and the Riviera are the hot spots in France, Rome and Sicily are major centers in Italy, and London is the epicenter of British mobility. Germany, on the other hand, is very spread out, and most of the rest of the continent is dark.
The scientists draw all sorts of wordy conclusions from all this. For example, one scientist, Albert-László Barabási, Robert Gray Dodge Professor of Network Science and director of Northeastern's Center for Complex Network Research
'The observed rapid changes offer a fascinating view of the transience of intellectual supremacy.'
Well, if you insist, Professor. They also used the data to reveal that some countries, like France, are dependent upon single cities that are cultural beacons, while others, like Germany, have cultural havens that are scattered all about and not nearly as centralized as in England or France.

In any event, if you are not as interested as the good Doctor on the transcience of intellectual supremacy, you might find that the animations just look kind of cool.


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