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Predicting by looking at narratives
Other Big Data cultural research examples will be presented tomorrow at a conference organized by the Dutch Meertens Institute “Patterns in narrative texts“. The data that will be discussed range from narrative journalistic texts to orally transmitted folktales. In the study of history, diachronic corpora can be mined to discover how historical events are reflected in language use. In folk narrative research, patterns of interest include the stability and variability of ‘narrative building blocks’ (motifs, memes) in oral transmission, and geographical dispersion of folk beliefs in the supernatural. Establishing links between narrative texts is a common factor in all this research.
One of the pieces of research that will be discussed is “Mining the Twentieth Century’s History from the TIME Magazine Corpus”. Mike Kestemont & Folgert Karsdorp are going to explain how to predict Times’s Person of the Year. In their research they have paid special attention to the intriguing interplay between this list of influential personalities and the manner in which they are discussed in the magazine’s own archive. They will have a lot to explain, looking at their top-10 list for 2013, since they’ve missed the person that has won this year, Pope Fransicus. But still the researchers have a hit-rate of more than 20%.