Timothy Burke, in his response to Graphs, Maps and Trees by Franco Moretti, reaffirms the importance of the quantification of data as a methodological approach to history but also establishes some limitations to this model, specifically certain factors approaches that are not able to be quantified or measured.
One idea that Burke introduces through his critique is actually strikingly similar to what Hayden White calls metanarrative, which is a term to describe all-encompassing concepts that gives meaning to historical facts. Burke doesn’t use the term metanarrative. However, he explains that Moretti’s approach to data has “difficulty explaining rupture, breach, or novelty,”meaning it needs an overall idea that would account for divergences, changes, and discontinuities in history. Burke calls this the complexity theory or emergence.
Burke’s idea allows for a history that it is not just linear – or gradual, as he refers to Moretti’s methodological approach. Instead, he offers a perspective on history that allows for the emergence of other factors and creates a non-linear history that can go incorporate more complex relationships. Burke uses “modernity” as an example of a metanarrative that he refers to as “emergent, and in some ways [an] accidental social structure which in turn creates the possibility for individual agency, that then generates still other emergent forms through will, choice or deliberate selection.”
This shows, as White suggests, that metanarratives are always needed to provide meaning to history. Burke gives them the added role of explaining unexpected turns in history, that data can’t easily quantify, furthering the idea that history is not linear and that those unexpected divergences from the linear perspective are, in fact, the essence of the study of history.
 Timothy Burke. “Book Notes: Franco Moretti’s Graphs, Maps, Tress.” The Valve a Literary Organ. January 2006.www.thevalve.org