Kalev H. Leetaru

Yahoo! Fellow 2013–2014

Kalev H. Leetaru was the 2013–2014 Yahoo! Fellow. He arrived at ISD as a "Big Data" and high performance computing scholar with the support of the Yahoo! Fund on International Values, Communications Technology and the Global Internet.

Before joining Georgetown University, Kalev held the Irwin, Boyd Rayward, Josie Houchens, and University Fellowships at the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Science, where he was also Assistant Director for Text and Digital Media Analytics and Senior Research Scientist for Content Analysis at the Institute for Computing in the Humanities, Arts, and Social Science and Center Affiliate of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications.

His award-winning work centers on the application of high performance computing to grand challenge problems using news and open sources intelligence. He holds three US patents (cited by a combined 34 other issued U.S. patents from companies including Amazon, Business Objects, Canon, Google, Hitachi, IBM, Microsoft, Motorola, Oracle, and Raytheon) and more than 50 University Invention Disclosures and has been an invited speaker, panelist, and discussant at venues including the Library of Congress, TEDxTallinn, Council on Foreign Relations, IAB Poland, Harvard, Columbia, Stanford, and UC Berkeley, while his work has been profiled in venues as diverse as Nature, the New York Times, BBC, the Economist, Discovery Channel, The Atlantic, Fortune Magazine, Columbia Journalism Review, MSNBC, Que Leer, La Stampa, US News & World Report, Politico, Huffington Post, Library Quarterly, AAPG Explorer, and the American Council on Education's The Presidency, together with media outlets in more than 100 countries.

His 2011 “Culturomics 2.0” study was selected by The Economist as one of just five science discoveries deemed the most significant developments of 2011, by ReadWriteWeb as one of the “best of” 2011 and one of the “fundamental issues that continue to shape the Web,” elected to the 2011 Netexplo 100, honoring the top 100 most “futuristic applications on the verge of science fiction,” and invited as a presentation at TEDxTallinn as an “idea worth spreading.” His 2012 collaboration with supercomputer manufacturer SGI creating the first geographic historical visualization of Wikipedia’s view of the world over the last two centuries earned the 2012 HPCWire Editor’s Choice Award for “Best use of HPC in an ‘edge HPC’ application” and “represent the highest level of honor and recognition given to the thought leaders in the HPC community by their own during the most important supercomputing event of the year.” At Supercomputing 2012 in a second partnership with SGI, he worked with the University of Illinois’ CIGI group to debut the first ever realtime combined population, tone, and geographic analysis of the live Twitter Decahose, creating a realtime map of global dreams and fears. In November 2012 he was selected for the 2012 National Academies Keck Futures Initiative, The Informed Brain in a Digital World, which “brings together more than 100 of the nation’s best and brightest researchers from academic, industrial, and government laboratories to ask questions about—and to discover interdisciplinary connections between—important areas of cutting-edge research.”

His most recent collaborations include the first in-depth study of the geography of social media and the changing role of distance and location in online communicative behavior around the world, and the creation with Philip Schrodt and Patrick Brandt of the GDELT database of more than a quarter-billion georeferenced global events 1979-present in the 300+-category CAMEO taxonomy that provides an open academic equivalent to the ICEWS system that is essentially a “daybook’ or catalog of global human society according to the news media. http://gdelt.utdallas.edu/.

Press & Projects

Der Spiegel, July 2013

GDELT: Global Database of Events, Language, and Tone