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CMU Researchers Creating 16th-Century Facebook

The Six Degrees of Francis Bacon project aims to visualize the Early Modern Social Network.


We might think of social networking as a new phenomenon, but it has actually existed for centuries — albeit offline. And thank goodness. Just imagine Williams Shakespeare’s plays being torn asunder by comment-section trolls. Or a Vine of Isaac Newton being conked in the head by a falling apple.

To the NSA’s delight, modern social networks provide a digital footprint of our influences, preferences and connections. Now, researchers from Carnegie Mellon University are using advanced data mining techniques to reconstruct a visual social network for some of the most important thinkers of the 16th and 17th centuries.

The project, dubbed Six Degrees of Francis Bacon, started with a list of 6,000 scholars, scientists, artists and other important figures. Using computer algorithms, the researchers mined evidence of connections from digitized books, articles, documents, letters and manuscripts. The team has already investigated 19 million potential connection points, including the social networks of Bacon, Shakespeare and Newton.

Here's what it looks like.

Visualizing the influences and spread of ideas within the Early Modern Social Network could help answer many fascinating questions. For instance, is it possible that Bacon could have ghost-written several, or all, of Shakespeare’s plays? The drama!

Follow @6Bacon on Twitter for updates on the ongoing project.



#Inspiring: Wounded Warriors’ Soldier Ride

Some true heroes will be rolling through town this weekend, quite literally. Alumni of the Wounded Warrior Project will be in Pittsburgh to participate in Soldier Ride, a unique four-day cycling event for Wounded Warriors to use cycling and the bonds of service to overcome physical, mental or emotional wounds.

On Friday, more than 40 veterans will band together for a 13-miles ride starting at 9:30 a.m. at the Duquesne Incline parking lot on W. Carson Street. The weekend will also include a boxing clinic at Carnegie’s Wolfpack Boxing Club and trip to PNC Park to see the first-place Pittsburgh Pirates.

Full schedule:

Thursday, June 27
10 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Bike fitting with WWP Alumni
Sheraton Station Square Hotel
300 West Station Square

Friday, June 28
9:15 a.m.

Soldier Ride Begins
Duquesne Lift Parking Lot
1197 W Carson Street, Station Square

The 13-mile ride ends at starting point around 11:30 a.m.

2:30 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Boxing Clinic
Wolfpack Boxing Club
1000 Gregg Street, Carnegie

Saturday, June 29
9:30 a.m.

Soldier Ride begins
Moraine State Park
230 Pleasant Valley Rd, Portersville

The 19-mile ride ends at Moraine State Park around 1:45 p.m.



#Spotted: The Bootmobile

This giant boot car was spotted by a reader in Oakland. What gives? Turns out the Bootmobile is in town for L.L. Bean’s Outdoor Discovery Day on Saturday. The event runs from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. at Schenley Park in Oakland. Experts will be on hand to offer free instruction on fly casting, camping basics and outdoor activities for the whole family. Plus, there’s a bunch of opportunities to win L.L. Bean gear.

Just don’t try to steal the Bootmobile.

  What’s going on tonight?

  • Take a boat ride with Attack Theatre and help celebrate a fabulous 2012-2013 season with cocktails, light fare and drinks! $30 donation suggested. — 5:30 p.m.
  • Hear the songs and stories about the days of Apple Records, working with John Lennon, George Harrison, Phil Spector and Todd Rundgren at Hard Rock Cafe in Station Square. — 6 p.m.
  • Travel to Wexford to partake in The Great North Pour Beer Festival at Cabana Bar. Enjoy food, drinks and live entertainment while benefiting the Children’s Hospital Free Care Fund. — 6 p.m.


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