Ye Olde Metadata

A screenshot from the Paul Revere project depicting his name’s location amongst the web of connections.

For this assignment, I looked at the Using Metadata to find Paul Revere project. Not only was this project a really interesting demonstration of the connections that can be made with metadata, but it was also written in a fun and engaging way to keep the reader interested and understanding.

The organizational nodes appear to be the London Enemies, the North Caucus, and the Tea Party, with St. Andrew’s Lodge existing more on the edge. For the web of people, the nodes and edges are a little more difficult to grasp, since the web isn’t interactive, but the general shape can show you that there are five distinct clusters, with a few smaller groups on the edges. Zooming in shows that Paul Revere is the name at almost dead center, with connections to each cluster, while the names on the outskirts, like Tyler Royall at the bottom, only have a few connections to the nearest clusters.

This project allows for several different connections to be drawn, but there are three that I would like to highlight. The first is that the metadata was able to create connections between people based on the organizations of which they were identified as members. The number of people belonging to multiple organizations and to which organizations they belonged demonstrated the amount of overlap between the organizations. The next step demonstrated connections between people based on the people they were likely interacting with, creating the dense web of connections seen above. Then, the researchers asked this question, “If I have to get from person a to person z, how likely is it that the quickest way is through person x?” This question enabled them to find the person with the most connections in the metadata, and you guessed it – Paul Revere was the top scorer.

My one critique of this site/project is that the images created and presented of their data – the networks – are unfortunately not interactive, so the reader cannot attempt to move around or look deeper into the web of connections between people. However, the article does explain what is going on, so the reader is not lost, but it would be nice for the connections to be interactive to add a level of engagement and to be able to explore the connections yourself, to track down where Paul Revere is in the web.


  1. I really like how thorough this post is, you clearly took the time to understand the network. I also agree with your critique — I feel like it’s really great when these networks can be interactive because manipulating them helps you get an understanding of what’s going on without having to read an outside guide, etc.

  2. I appreciate the kinds of questions you ask which enables a deeper analysis of the network graphs.

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