While modding a PC in 2005, I recognized that 64bit computing was about to go mainstream. This change in processor and memory architecture would solve a fundamental problem in social network analysis (SNA). Network data expands exponentially as more nodes are added, making the study of large networks difficult and hindering progress in SNA. Newer, cheaper 64bit processors in 2005 dramatically increased the amount of nodes of information analysts could track, making it easier to observe patterns and correlate events. This change in technology is the core reason why social media and the big data movement blossomed after 2005.

In December 2005, I ran an experiment with a group of graduate students to use the snowballing method to map how news spreads within a neighborhood. This started a project called, which was a social map, database and a vlog about Boston’s Chinatown neighborhood. launched in December 2005. It was cited by the American Press Institute’s Newspaper Next study. The site was honored by the Knight Batten Awards for Innovation in Journalism 2007. And, it was a finalist for the AEJMC Great Ideas for Teachers Award 2007. 

Article on in Convergence Newsletter.

Putting Open Source Tools to Work for Community Reporting by Tom Johnson