Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Digital Humanities and the 2016 Election

I've previously mentioned the advent of digital humanities, especially in regards to measuring ebb and flow of positive and negative words.  The New York Times has done something similar, but with the presidential candidates on a scale of positive/negative and simple/complex, while also including the books closest to them on this matrix.  That Trump's language is the simplest, by a significant margin, is not surprising.  In fact, his placement is directly above The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (a novel narrated by an uneducated thirteen year old) and slightly below the Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Anderson.  To be fair, this is a man whose most lasting contribution to English letters was a two-word catchphrase.  The positive/negative spectrum is more interesting, especially when you look within a party.  The democratic candidates are interesting in that they form almost a mirror image, with O'Malley just a hair from the center line, and Sanders and Clinton equidistant from the origin on the negative and positive sides, respectively.  It's not difficult to see how this corresponds to their rhetorical style, with Sanders spending more time focusing on what's wrong and why we need to fix it, while Clinton is more focused on saying how things will improve.  

It's an interesting article, and provides a neat visualization of political rhetoric.

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