Noyce Conference Room
  US Mountain Time
Peter Dodds (University of Vermont)

Ousiometrics and Telegnomics: Distant measurement of timelines, stories, and essential meaning

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We define 'ousiometrics' to be the study of essential meaning in whatever context that meaningful signals are communicated, and 'telegnomics' as the study of remotely sensed knowledge.

From work emerging through the middle of the 20th century, the essence of meaning has become generally accepted as being well captured by the three orthogonal dimensions of evaluation, potency, and activation (EPA).

In this talk, by re-examining first types and then tokens for the English language, and through the use of automatically annotated histograms—'ousiograms'—we find here that: 

1. The essence of meaning conveyed by words is instead best described by a compass-like plane with major axes of powerful-weak and dangerous-safe;


2. Analysis of a disparate collection of large-scale English language corpora—literature, news, Wikipedia, talk radio, and social media—shows that natural language exhibits a systematic bias toward safe, low danger words—a reinterpretation of the Pollyanna principle's positivity bias for written expression.

We will use our findings to construct and test a prototype 'ousiometer', a telegnomic instrument that measures ousiometric time series for temporal corpora.

We will show that the power-danger (PD) framework appears in other venues including the distribution of character types in stories, and indicate an array of possible future work.

We will also touch on a range of connected projects potentially including: measurements of happiness and sadness; dynamics of simple fame; computational historical timeline reconstruction; collective chronopathy, how time flies and crawls; and work on `allotaxonometry', the comparison of complex systems.


Sample Relevant Papers

1. Ousiometrics and Telegnomics: The essence of meaning conforms to a two-dimensional powerful-weak and dangerous-safe framework with diverse corpora presenting a safety bias"

2. "Computational timeline reconstruction of the stories surrounding Trump: Story turbulence, narrative control, and collective chronopathy"

3. "Storywrangler: A massive exploratorium for sociolinguistic, cultural, socioeconomic, and political timelines using Twitter"

4. "Probability-turbulence divergence: A tunable allotaxonometric instrument for comparing heavy-tailed categorical distributions"

5. "Allotaxonometry and rank-turbulence divergence: A universal instrument for comparing complex systems"

6. "Fame and Ultrafame: Measuring and comparing daily levels of 'being talked about' for United States' presidents, their rivals, God, countries, and K-pop"

Research Collaboration
SFI Host: 
Jennifer Dunne