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More on maps, terrains, and behaviors

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 February 2014

R. Alexander Bentley
Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1UU, United Kingdom.
Michael J. O'Brien
Department of Anthropology, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211.
William A. Brock
Department of Economics, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211 Department of Economics, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706.


In a recent New York Times column (April 15, 2013), David Brooks discussed how the big-data agenda lacks a coherent framework of social theory – a deficiency that the Bentley, O'Brien, and Brock (henceforth BOB) model was meant to overcome. Or, stated less pretentiously, the model was meant as a first step in that direction – a map that hopefully would serve as a minimal, practical, and accessible framework that behavioral scientists could use to analyze big data. Rather than treating big data as a record of, and also a predictor of, where and when certain behaviors might take place, the BOB model is interested in what big data reveal about how decisions are being made, how collective behavior evolves from daily to decadal time scales, and how this varies across communities.

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