Recent Posts

Gonzo Data Science

Gonzo Data Science

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” “That’s right.” – Sunspring, a film written by AI The term gonzo data science was used by the creator of the AI that was used to write Sunspring. He works at Google. Gonzo journalism was a term coined […]

Back to blogging

Back to blogging

I’m on sabbatical this year. It will officially begin on Tuesday when classes normally start. I’ll be in a cabin in the woods to celebrate. I’m trying to create as many rituals as possible during this year. I want to mark time as clearly as […]

“Everyone writes stories”: A new piece in Public Books

“Everyone writes stories”: A new piece in Public Books

In the old days, people used to talk about gaming the system. It meant manipulating the rules to produce a desired outcome. The term was popularized by software engineers in 1975. Today, we hear a lot more about “gamification,” another term popularized by software engineers. […]

Superheroes and Socialites: a new lab collaboration

Superheroes and Socialites: a new lab collaboration

Anne Meisner, Victoria Svaikovsky, Will Schumer and Cheng Lin have produced a new lab collaboration that explores the nature of “character universes.” The Marvel character universe is said to mark a major new moment in Hollywood film production and we were interested in better understanding […]

Social Characters: new lab collaboration by Eve Kraicer

Social Characters: new lab collaboration by Eve Kraicer

Eve Kraicer’s lab collaboration (our name for working papers) is now out! It’s about the ways in which gender is represented in contemporary fiction looking at a collection of ca. 26,000 characters. Some of the salient findings: the ratio of women to men characters in […]

Detecting gender in 26,000 literary characters

Detecting gender in 26,000 literary characters

Eve Kraicer and I have co-authored a new piece in The Journal of Cultural Analytics. It’s called “Social Characters” and looks at the distribution of gender among characters in a collection of ca. 1,300 contemporary novels. Where previous work has emphasized the growing gender parity […]

Are characters really all that special?

Are characters really all that special?

Browsing through the history of literature, you are likely to find authors poking fun at their characters for just being words on the page. As George Eliot writes in Middlemarch, “‘He has got no good red blood in his body,’ said Sir James. ‘No somebody put […]

How can we understand characters using data?

How can we understand characters using data?

So for my first post, I want to discuss techniques that you can use to find and understand “characters” in literary texts. The tool I will be discussing is called BookNLP and is developed by David Bamman at UC Berkeley. It is a wonderful resource […]