Geoffrey Rockwell

Palantir – Telling Stories with Software

Unlike much of the hype around big data and predictive analytics, some data management tools like Palantir present themselves as being hermeneutical. In other words they are designed to be used to interpret data. In this paper I will “read” the commercial surveillance tool Palantir and argue that despite the computing discourse that promotes these tools as crystal balls with which to see far they are really for telling stories about people.

Dr. Geoffrey Martin Rockwell is a Professor of Philosophy and Humanities Computing at the University of Alberta. He has published on textual visualization and analysis, and computing in the humanities including a book from the MIT Press, Hermeneutica: Computer-Assisted Interpretation in the Humanities. He is a co-developer of Voyant Tools <voyant-tools.org>, a suite of text analysis tools, and leads the TAPoR <tapor.ca> project documenting text tools. He is currently the Director of the Kule Institute for Advanced Study and blogs at <theoreti.ca>.