ASIS&T 2014 Annual Meeting 
Seattle, WA | October 31 - November 5, 2014

The Phylogeny of a Dataset

Andrea K. Thomer, Nicholas M. Weber
Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2:00pm


In this paper, we use phylogenetic methods to study the evolution of a long-standing, widely-used dataset from the earth sciences. We argue that a quantitative evolutionary approach to studying how digital objects change over time can provide insight that other historical methods such as citation analysis or provenance modeling cannot.

Our analysis shows that clustering algorithms developed specifically for phylogenetic studies in evolutionary biology can be successfully adapted to the study of digital objects, and their known offspring. However, we note a number of limitations with the approach we have taken here, and potential ways that these methods can be refined in future work. We conclude with a discussion of how phylogeny can be an informative tool for information science.