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Deb Roy: The birth of a word



The first part, the highly qualitative study of his son's language development, is brilliant.

The second part appears to be common sense obscured using ridiculously fancy but obscure graphics. I mean, unless I've missed something, he has been datagathering from blogs or twitter or both and discovered (a) that bloggers talk about TV, (b) that a lot of people watched the State of the Union, (c) that people who comment on or link to other people's blog posts about a TV show usually watch that show themselves. This isn't a discovery; it's not even as if it's data to support something we all guessed but didn't have some way of quantitatively proving; there are various data gathering techniques which could tell you the same thing and with the one he chose to use the conclusions are practically an artifact of the gathering process.

Seriously; am I missing something? I'd be happy to read his articles and/or book and discover that in fact he's produced some genuinely useful and interesting data but it certainly doesn't look like it from this talk (I'm talking about the 'social discourse' analysis part; the language development study is, as I said, brilliant*).

*(Though not quite 'ingenious'; no one has done it before because they lacked the technology and money to do it before. Many people have engaged in highly qualitative studies of infant language development).

the only brilliant part of what was presented was the quantification of this systematic destructuring and restructuring of language directed towards babies. the rest of it was common sense. the sense that anything there was more than "hey, look how neat technology is" was aided immensely by the 3D reconstructions.

the latter half seemed like a great way to sell out to corporations and marketing companies and politicians for ways to manipulate public consumption (if possible). yeah, I'm a pessimist.

Wow. Welcome to the future.

Straight out of star trek.

Although, I think my versions of how things happened are probably better than what actually happened.


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