Pantheon is a project developed by the Macro Connection’s group at The MIT Media Lab that’s collecting, analyzing, and visualizing data on historical cultural popularity and production.
Because of the diversity of cultural production, Pantheon will always be—by construction—an incomplete resource. This incompleteness, however, is the fuel that drives our team to continue compiling, refining, analyzing, and visualizing new sources of data.
To make our efforts tractable, Pantheon will not focus on culture, as it is understood in its broadest sense, but on cultural production. In a broad sense, culture can be understood as all of the information that humans—or animals—generate and transmit through non-genetic means.
At Pantheon, however, we do not focus on the entire range of cultural information, but in a subset of this information that we define narrowly as cultural production. That is, we do not focus on cultural information such as passed on family values or societal trust, but on cultural production as proxied by the biographies of notable historical characters.
Moreover, we focus on the subset of cultural production that we can identify as global culture, meaning the subset of cultural production that has broken the barriers of space, time and language. By focusing on global culture we do not deny the existence of importance of local culture, but simply, choose to focus on global culture because it is a subset of the world’s cultural production that is relatively small, easy to map and of clear importance.
The version 1.0 Pantheon—available starting January 2014—builds on two data sources, but was constructed to accommodate future data sources.