Bacon Facebook

Six Degrees of Francis Bacon?

by Leslie Christianson, User Services Librarian

You’ve heard of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon…

Well, now you can search Six Degrees of Francis Bacon, a new data visualization tool that helps define the relationships and influences of the British early modern philosopher and statesman Francis Bacon (this guy).

Six Degrees Beta

It is easy to define someone’s network and social capital today with likes, friends, and tweets but how do we extract that information about historical figures? Researchers look to the written word and primary sources to build a picture of a person’s network. This tool pulls that data out and creates a map of Bacon’s circle.

EurekAlert recently reported on this new digital humanities project co-created by Carnegie Mellon University and Georgetown University.

“Are you researching Anne Boleyn to find out if she knew Thomas More, author of ‘Utopia?’ Now, you can see that in an instant,” said project director Christopher Warren, associate professor of English in CMU’s Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “But not only that, you can see all of the people they knew, thus giving you new ways to consider communities, factions, influences and sources. It’s critical for scholars because even experts have a hard time keeping so many relations in their heads. Meanwhile, newcomers have nearly instantaneous access to contextual information that’s often really difficult to access.”

Six Degrees of Francis BaconWarren added, “Francis Bacon may not have ‘liked’ or commented on a Facebook post by Shakespeare, but reassembling the early modern social network gets us a long way toward understanding what he or anyone else could have known, jokes and references they would have understood, sensitive information they might have encountered.”

Check out the entire article here:

Try it out and tell us what you think!



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