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Can Social Networks Help Us Understand Our Communities?

Maria Elena
Creative Commons

What if you had the ability to read the emotions, the thoughts, the concerns of your city in real time, at any time? What if you could then use that information to help your community -- to build stronger policies, and foster better relationships with those around you? 

Those are the sorts of questions Salvatore Iaconesi and Oriana Persico had in mind when they first created Human Ecosystems, a global project that taps into the social networks of our cities, finding out what drives communities and cultures to come together, and also what keeps them apart.

As an example of what Human Ecosystems demonstrates, a video below, "Ten Minutes in Detroit," visualizes one day's worth of social networking activity in Detroit. 

This hour, we sit down with the creators of Human Ecosystems to learn more about the kinds of data it’s collecting, and find out how it’s being used to make our cities better places to live.

What can our Facebook posts and Twitter updates teach us about our neighbors; about ourselves? And how can this knowledge be used to bring us all just a little closer together?


  • Salvatore Iaconesi - 2014 Yale World Fellow, hacker, activist, robotics engineer, artist, and philosopher
  • Oriana Persico - Communications scientist, writer, and cultural and social analyst
  • Jon Husband - Speaker, writer, techno anthropologist, consultant, and creator of Wirearchy
  • Doug Hausladen - Director of Transportation, Traffic, and Parking for the City of New Haven

Upcoming Human Ecosystems Workshops:

  • November 18, 2014 from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. at The Grove New Haven (760 Chapel Street)
  • November 20, 2014 from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. at The Grove New Haven (760 Chapel Street)
  • November 21, 2014 from 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. at the Yale School of Management (165 Whitney Avenue)

For more information about the project, click here.

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