SDF 33: Convolvulus, Coronavirus & the Thomas theorem


Coronavirus, COVID-19 and the great mis-infodemic are centre stage in this episode 33 of the Small Data Forum podcast.

The global pandemic provides Thomas Stoeckle, Sam Knowles and I with an array of topics to dissect and discuss as we take solace from the wisdom of the superforecasting capabilities of Asterix and his indomitable Gauls.

“If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequence,” writes Thomas in the show notes.

This little known sociological formula from the late 1920s, known as the Thomas Theorem after husband-and-wife research team William and Dorothy Thomas (“I wish I could claim a level of ownership but no,” says our Thomas), helps us understand how and why the perception and interpretation of events determine the impact of such events in a media world.

And it’s not hard to see why there might be a problem when ‘situations’ arise from mis- and dis-information.

For almost four years now, the Small Data Forum has been mulling over, musing on and opining about the uses and abuses of data big and small in politics, business and public life – and with Brexit and Trump perma-themes on our show, mis- and dis-information have always been top of the bill.

No surprise, then, that our latest podcast – recorded in splendid self-isolation in our respective home offices – was largely about the misinfodemic of COVID-19.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

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