From Big Data to Global Diplomacy: Today and Tomorrow

Yahoo! Conference, April 10, 2014

The online world is allowing faster, more representative, and round-the-clock access to societal behavior around the globe. Today, people from Bangladesh to Buenos Aires busily tell one another and their neighbors what they see, what they think, and what is important to them, offering unparalleled visibility in the digital heartbeat of global society. The proliferation of always-connected mobile devices means citizens and participants are often the first to report on emerging events, streaming photographs, videos, and ground reports as events unfold, while social platforms have become one of the primary organizing tools for rebel and opposition movements. Moreover, the constant stream of daily life that flows across online media platforms provides rich contextual background information on the narratives of each region and culture.

A growing chorus of voices argues that “big data” is a usable, practical tool to help foreign policy makers, implementers and analysts increase their understanding of global issues. For example, computerized analysis of massive amounts of world press reporting yielded an innovative map of Ukraine’s protest violence useful to any individual grappling with the present and anticipating the future of that region. Can similar analysis of the “thoughts, discussions, and debates expressed in public social conversation” provide similar insights for foreign policy practitioners, scholars and students?

Each section of the conference agenda presented below will include a video of the speakers presentation. For the presentation by Will Mayo, we are providing the slides of his presentation. A printed transcript provided here also includes any slides used during the speakers presentation.


Anthony Arend
Director, Master of Science in Foreig Service Program
Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service

The State of Big Data

Kalev Leetaru
2013–2014 Yahoo! Fellow in Residence
Institute for the Study of Diplomacy

The Social Media Landscape

Will Mayo

Slide presentation [link to PDF file]

Big Data, but Not for Superman: Engaging and Empowering Grass Roots Peacebuilders

Noel Dickover
U.S. Institute of Peace

Big Data to Visualize, Analyze, and Forecast Global Issues

Kalev Leetaru

Panel Discussion