Global Narratives Research & Development Project

Global Narratives is our most ambitious research project. In it, we are working to develop a new set of theories of international political analysis and investigation, new methods for identifying and tracking risk and scenarios, categorizing events and comparing interpretative analyses of global politics. We’re also developing an interactive dashboard system for analysts, journalists, finance and politics professionals to engage with this research. The work spans software development, political science ontology, creation of constructed languages, political cartography and risk quantification.

We regularly post updates to our work across all the verticals, and run a newsletter exploring the impact of the work on real-world news events and scenarios. We are also planning academic workshops, working papers and full articles for late 2017 and 2018. If you are an academic, researcher or practitioner interested in learning more about the work, or just a curious observer, please email us

What is Global Narratives?

The Global Narratives project is the umbrella name for a series of interrelated research and development projects designed and intended to work with each other in a unified interface. The project involves original research, software development, algorithm construction, data analysis and related innovations across a range of disciplines and subject areas. 

Most of the work is confined to code and spreadsheets at the moment, but we will be posting visuals as soon as they're done!

Global Narratives involves research and development of eight component parts, each of which generates outputs on its own and in concert with the other components.

  • Global Political Relationship Graph Database - Geopolitical analysis is in need of a professional, regularly-updated, properly organized database of individuals, institutions, current and historical events, analyses, theories, and quantified data, organized along a unified set of organizational practices and collated to be useful to political analysis. The Global Narratives project is compiling this as a graph database in Neo4j. It’s a professional Wikipedia, organized for analysis and querying.

  • Global Political Cartography with event mapping and identification  - Google Maps transformed the way people interact with the physical landscape. Every location can be known, examined and explored, with connections to local restaurants, museums and stores known in advance. This effort gave us a functional geolocation identifier for daily life. In Global Narratives, we are working on replicating this achievement, for political events.   

  • Exhaustive & Concise Political Event Ontology - CAMEO and WEIS are old-school by now. We need something better. How many kinds of events occur in day to day politics? How can we index, categorize and name them? What is the maximum we can arrive at for analytic clarity and minimum for analytic concision? What is the difference between describing a statement as a “criticism” or a “negative opinion?” The political event ontology structure of the Global Narratives project seeks to go beyond the existing efforts at event categorization and establish a comprehensive, clear and functional architecture of event design.

  • Event Design & Compressed Informational Expression (CIE-lang) - Individual events in global politics, economics, business and social affairs share common dimensions, characteristics and dramatis personae. That is to say, they take place within a bounded system with a delimited set of possible participants. This suggests that they can be expressed as a set of positions and points along a defined set of axes and from fixed inputs, allowing them to be queried, compared and analyzed in a proper, quantitative, rigorous format. Presently, each time an analyst wants to undertake such research, this process must be done ad hoc at great expense of time and confusion and proliferation of methodology. The Global Narratives system establishes a transferable grammar and syntax of compressed informational expression. A sample event, written in the current iteration is below:  

    • 20170817.evt.mea.101
      
      REC: 20170817.1939 UTC
      
      can.mde.com.002 [s-ds] int.igo.001 $ rep.2017.0115
      
       rep [s-cr] ksa.ml $ {axn} / yem
      
      [s-ac] ksa.ml $ hr.vlx
      
       $ yem.enf
      
      ksa.emb.igo.001 [s-cr]
      
      int.igo.001 (*)[r-rp] rep.2017.0115
      
      int.igo.001.exc (*){vu}
  • Risk Weighting and Quantification - Analysts of international politics regularly disagree on the intensity and nature of the effects of any single event on a postulated outcome. But the methodologies for examining these disagreements are rudimentary, and rely overwhelmingly on implicit knowledge, rather than explicit practice. The Global Narratives system is developing a regularized, traceable, transparent risk weighting mechanic for applying, measuring and comparing the estimated effects of a single event on a defined, postulated outcome.

  • Scenario and Narrative design and weighting - Pundits for politics, economics and business often raise hypothetical future conditions in vague terms. So-and-so will “crack down” in the next six months. “This upcoming conference will be the most important one yet.” Markets will “react strongly.” Claims like these serve the interest of the prognosticator to seem authoritative without having to make a clear, falsifiable claim. But they are analytically useless. In order to assess our the value of our expectations and assessments, we have to establish clear, transparent, falsifiable mechanisms for postulated scenarios. This section of the project is connected to risk weighting, and developed in tandem.

  • User Dashboard - A database is only as good as the mechanisms for interacting with it. A significant part of the Global Narratives project is the work on the development of  an elegant, functional user experience for the system. Designing a UI/UX for professionals is a very different challenge from designing one for the general public, and we are very cognizant of who our final users are and what their interests and needs are.

Interested in getting involved with Narratives?

Development History and Research Phases

The Global Narratives system has its origins in original research work carried out in 2013, before the Met Society existed. This work advanced sporadically across the intervening years until the decision arose to establish the Met Society and bring the work under the aegis of a formal research organization. Then, starting in late 2016, We began work on Phase I of work on the Global Narratives system on January 1, 2017, following a research design phase in the fourth quarter of 2016. In this First Phase of active research, we focused on answering and exploring preliminary questions across Area 3 (Risk Weighting). We completed at the end of Q1, 2017, and are now compiling a working paper on our results and progress.

The Narratives Project is now in its Second Phase of primary research, with 12 active researchers in New York City, covering developments and analysis across all global regions.  We are currently focused primarily on developments in Sections 3 and 4 (Risk Weighting and Outcome Tracking of the Narratives Framework. 

  • By tracking and quantifying the effect of international events on emergent scenarios, the Global Narratives framework will make decision-making more transparent, and support the assessment and verification of assumptions and hypotheses that go into scenario planning.
  • By regularizing and simplifying the techniques needed to create, analyze and compare emergent risk scenarios, the Global Narratives Framework will broaden the range of professionals in the foreign policy and international security sphere who can participate meaningfully in the process, helping policy makers incorporate insights from beyond the narrow cone of intelligence community specialists

We are making updates to our Global Narratives every week, so if you're interested in staying on top of the developments, please sign up for our GN weekly update memo above!

The Global Narratives Framework will provide quantitative monitoring of global risk scenarios using data derived from international political events. This method will aid policy makers, scenario planners, and intelligence analysts, among others, in concretizing and quantifying risks and connections among emergent, multi-vector contingencies. Policy choices and political decision-making in the international security and foreign policy sphere tend to be made using assessments of the relative likelihood and impact of emergent scenarios, but even the most skilled analysts rely almost entirely on implicit knowledge, subjective analytical criteria and non-scientific intelligence tradecraft. These traditional practices, which remain dominant, thereby impede an objective tracking and evaluation of emerging risks, as well as rigorous, procedural critique and evaluation of previous assessments and decisions.