The LittleSis.org/AlterNet citizens’ investigation of the Bubble Barons concluded last night, after a month of digging deep on the super-wealthy individuals who benefit most from our bubble economy. Thanks to all who participated! I am currently working on a final piece on the investigation and our findings.
In the meantime, to give you an idea of how much information the bubble baron research crew dug up, take a look at the following two network graphs. The first one shows a snapshot of LittleSis.org data on the bubble barons prior to the investigation. The second one shows this network graph after the investigation. The nodes represent bubble barons and the organizations and individuals they are connected with, and the lines represent relationships between them.
A network graph of the bubble barons, before the investigation (click through for the full-size image):
And after the investigation (again, click through):
Believe it or not, these graphs actually exclude the bubble barons’ charitable giving — that requires a separate graph, coming soon.
The graphs show how much research went into this project. At this point, they are too cluttered to be extremely informative, but there are lots of fascinating graphs within this graph — it’s a question of analyzing and paring down the data, which I’ll be doing over the next few days.
A quick glance at the second graph also yields some insights: Harvard University, unsurprisingly, is the biggest dot (meaning that it has the most connections to bubble barons). On the other hand, I didn’t go into this investigation expecting to see the Prostate Cancer Foundation at the center of the graph, but many bubble barons apparently have ties to ex-felon Michael Milken’s charitable effort, which has been central to his efforts to revive his reputation.
It should be noted that as with any large-scale investigation, some research targets got more attention than others. LittleSis analyst rjgwood is responsible for the incredibly rich data on Milken, for instance. A handful of bubble barons slipped under the radar, however. In some sense, this investigation will never end truly end on LittleSis.org: as long as these folks control billions (trillions?) of dollars, and make decisions that affect our lives profoundly, they deserve far more scrutiny (and we plan on giving it to them).
Though the actual bubble baron research has concluded (in some sense), I’ll be working over the next few days to put together a final piece with findings the investigation, pulling stories out of this data set and working with the most active bubble baron researchers to figure out what findings to highlight. Drop me a line if you would like to suggest anything in particular.
Thanks to all who participated in the project!