About this Research Topic
Culture is what separates us from other living creatures. It is a complex interplay of customs and beliefs transmitted through social learning. Culture encompasses peculiar aspects of human behavior such as language, religion or art, some of which are found in all societies whereas others are endemic to specific ones. With advent of social media new cultural traits start emerging in form of emoticons, hashtags and netiquettes, shifting the paradigm of what culture is and how we relate to it.
Studying human culture and its dynamics over time is relevant not just for knowing who we are, but also for being able to manage new social challenges. Traditionally, culture is studied within frameworks of social sciences such as sociology or anthropology. Yet recent decades saw an unprecedented deluge of digitized data that testify about all forms of social interactions, tracing new avenues towards quantitative analysis of culture. This gave birth to the new field of culturomics that studies human behavior and cultural phenomena through quantitative analysis of (Big) data. This vibrant field has already offered promising insights, including on one hand quantitative verification of results known from social sciences, and on the other hand an array of new and unexpected findings that are still to be explained.
From its birth culturomics was an interdisciplinary field, where computational and natural sciences work in synergy with social sciences. While the former two look for patterns in the data employing a vast spectrum of data analysis and process modeling techniques, the latter offers an interpretation of the obtained results in the context of established social theories. Peculiar here is the role of physics, which enters this arena as a powerful methodological framework disconnected from its original scientific ends. Thereby, the quality of culturomics research strongly depends on the quality of interactions between these scientific communities, which however is often hindered - ironically - by different scientific cultures that have over the years developed separately in them.
The aim of this Research Topic is to produce new and consolidate existing quantitative knowledge about human culture, its various traits and forms, its dynamics over time, its dependence on the underlying society and its new manifestations as our lives shift from physical to the online world. We welcome all original research and review articles that can be placed in the broader domain of culturomics. Most appreciated will be the contributions from interdisciplinary groups of authors, where the real effort was made to combine the insights and knowledge from different scientific communities.
Keywords: Big Data, Statistical Analysis, Digitized Texts, Human Culture, Social Phenomena