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Wither Question #98? June 29, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in blogging, blogs, Blogs and Blogging, COMBS, memes, Other, statistical analysis, tagging.
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This is fourth in a series of posts about my study of responses to the dreaded 150 Things meme.  All of which will end up on the COMBS page of this site, eventually.

Zandperl,* of Strange Musings writes:

One thing I noticed in your “study” is that many people left out the #98, about naming a constellation. I believe that I deliberately omitted it from mine since I’m an astronomer and know that in reality you can’t name your own constellation (the International Astronomical Union, of anti-Pluto fame, actually names them), but I’m curious if you know why all the other people omitted it and who started it.

Ah, well, I was curious about that, too.  Many people omitted this question before you deleted it from you list.  Difficult to say why, at least without more research (Oh, Boy!), but it may have been because there were at least two different questions numbered 98 by then.  Most people who answered the question (meaning that they included it in their list) put it in as “created and named your own constellation.”  But a few answered a different question #98: “passed out cold.” 

Perhaps a short paragraph regarding method is in order.  This “study” sampled blogs that responded to this meme by going to Technorati and typing in the first line of the meme as a search term.  Then I scrolled through 50 pages (500 blogs) until I got to the 50th, and worked backwards.  (I figured that with some blogs being deleted and some being offline for other reasons, I would be able to get a sample of 300 or so with which I could do this “study.”)** 

The earliest blog in the sample (um, the earliest for which I have a date) was Purple Valley, written by val, published on October 19, 2006.  If one wanted, one could trace the meme back, starting with the people that tagged her (which can be found on her post, here) and probably, perhaps, find the origin of the meme. 

What a discovery that would be!  Like Burton and Speke searching for the origin of the Nile. It would take you to the wilds of the Internet Archive, I suppose. If nobody wants to do that, I would understand.  But I am otherwise engaged at the moment. If sombody does want this job, I’d be happy to put them on the list of advisors at COMBS (which would mean putting up a page for that sort of thing, of course).  Such a research affiliate could choose their own title and role there, we’re not stuffy about that sort of thing.

Finally, my sincerest apologies for not responding to comments in the last two weeks.  There have been many, and I have responded to many of them on other peoples’ blogs, because my blog, this blog, perhaps for very good reasons, treats my own comments as spam and filters them out.  Yes.  It does.  And then yesterday when I discovered what Akismet was doing I attempted to “unspam” these comments.  It ignored my efforts as efficiently as only a computer algorithm can ignore things.  It did.

*Does one capitalize the lower case name of a nom-de-blog when it starts a sentence?  I couldn’t find anything in Strunk and White to cover this.

**zandperl put the word “study” in quotation marks, which I’m going to adopt here.  As soon as I have the time I’m going to change it throughout the blog, even going so far as to change it within the logo for COMBS.  Although I am making a serious attempt to get all of this stuff right, I’m not fooling myself into lending my findings more scientific weight or import than they can bear.  Having done some serious polling, public opinion, and marketing research, I know how to do a serious study.  Most of the questions in this particular meme have multiple interpretations, which would be inadmissible as a study.  Take question #98, for example.  I interpreted it to mean something like what the fictional ogre Shrek did in his first movie, pointing at the sky and telling Donkey that there was a constellation called “Gabby” named after a talkative donkey.   What I am doing here is not a series of studies; these are “studies.”

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Comments»

1. zandperl - June 29, 2007

Perhaps in your tally of the answers, you should have a #98a, and #98b, where one is the constellation and the other the “passed out cold,” as lumping them together does not allow you to distinguish between the two. This is reminding me of how biologists can trace how different species are related to each other by what patches of DNA they have in common, and I’m sure literature experts do similar things with translations of the Bible (for example). You would presumably end up with three groups, #98a, #98b, and #98N/a. I would expect that you could trace all the #98a to a common “meme ancestor,” ditto #98b, but the #98N/a would likely have some coming from each of the two other pools.

*I am indifferent as to whether a leading capitalization is used or not, and I do not know any official protocol either. In cases like iTunes and the iPhone, where it’s a registered trademark, I presume the leading lowercase should be used even at the start of a sentence. In my case, think I usually use lowercase as it’s faster to type than the uppercase “Z” (especially since I only ever use the left Shift key, despite being a righty, requiring me to shift my whole hand so the ring finger can hit the “Z”), except in the case of typing a title.

**No insult was intended, and I am relieved that you do not seem to have taken any. The project is definitely intriguing and meritorious, but as you say it is not entirely possible to analyze people’s responses rigorously, if for no other reason than because it’s essentially a “SLOP” (SeLf-SeLected Opinion Poll) – for example, people who complete internet memes are inherrently more likely to have two hard drives in their computer (#39). And as you mentioned some of the items can be interpreted multiple ways. Even with those drawbacks, there’s still interesting information to be gleaned from your project.

2. Travis - June 30, 2007

Now I read this post and went straight to my 150 things meme and discovered that there was no question 98!

So, if the question is have I ever named a constellation – my answer is no. I liked to learn the “official” names when I was younger.

If the question is have you ever passed out cold – my answer is yup, several times actually. The last time was the last time I drank more than a couple beers or cocktails…over 20 years ago.


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