The Arts—Digitized, Quantified, and Analyzed

The inspiration for this column is an article I came across on the website of Financial Times from June 15, 2013, titled “Big Data Meets the Bard.” The focus of the article is Stanford University’s “Literary Lab” run by Franco Moretti. In the lab, Moretti, his colleagues, and his students use data analysis techniques—and especially tools that we have come to associate with Big Data—to analyze plays, books, authors, and entire genres of literature. This got me thinking more broadly about the intersections between statistics and the arts, and between Big Data and the arts, which here I’ll define to be literature, music, and the visual arts (e.g., sculpture, painting).

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