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100 Books Meme – Tag Mirrored September 19, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in Books, fiction, folksonomies, librarything, literature, Other, tagging.
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While I was putting up my own LibraryThing Tag Mirror yesterday I was also puzzling about the list of books comprising the 100 Books Meme.   Then, suddenly, and somewhat painfully, ineinsbildung!  [When backed into a corner, exclaim something in German.  Even fewer people (one of whom is this blogger) know German than know Latin.]  

It occurred to me that I should give the same treatment to the idiosyncratic list that is the 100 Books Meme.  So I created a LibraryThing account comprised just of those books read by half or more of the bloggers who did the meme.

What sort of tags do those books have?  Well, these (click to enlarge):


And here is the tag mirror for the entire list of 100: (click to enlarge):


What does this tag cloud say about the composer of the list? I’ve got to get to work, so I’ll leave the rest as an exercise for the student, posting about it later only if I can make some sense of it.

Click here to examine the 100 Books LibraryThing tags individually or perhaps here would be even better.

Librarything Tag Mirror September 18, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in Books, folksonomies, librarything, Other, tagging.
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I got this from Cavan.  I have been very lazy about updatain my LT account.  Originally, I had what I thought was an interesting way of tagging my books, but beyond a hundred or so I stopped tagging them altogether.  Librarything recently unveiled a new feature for showing your library via tags put in but people who are less lazy–the tag mirror. 

The tag mirror shows my library, as if it was tagged by the more-responsible librarians there.  There are several different options for the number of tags.  Here’s 150 tags, the lowest setting (click to enlarge):


And here’s my library with 300 tags (click to enlarge):


I think there’s an option for 1000, too. but I couldn’t figure out how to actually display it.  If you click here, you can see it.

Wither Question #98? June 29, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in blogging, blogs, Blogs and Blogging, COMBS, memes, Other, statistical analysis, tagging.

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.”

Experience: What’s it Good For? June 27, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in memes, Other, Philosophy, statistical analysis, tagging, web 2.0.

This is third 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.

My wife and I rented “The Pursuit of Happyness” from Netflix about a month ago but finally found time to watch it on Sunday night.  I like Will Smith.  We lived in San Francisco for a while, at a time when I was interested in the stock market.  We are both interested in the plight of the homeless.  There were a lot of reasons that we thought we’d like the movie.  But we just couldn’t get through the unhappyness part of it.  We stopped watching after maybe 25 minutes and sent it back.

But it got me thinking about this meme, which some people looked at as a to-do list for life.  It should all add up to something, shouldn’t it, all these experiences? 

I combined the positive responses to questions #38 (have you ever actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment?) and #141 (have you ever thought to yourself that you’re living your dream?) to divide the sample into people who were relatively content (those who responded in the affirmative to both), and relatively discontent (those who did not).  Then I crosstabulated these against the rest of the questions.  So, what correlations did I find at the 95% level of confidence?  None.  Didn’t seem to make much difference. 

That again:

None of the accomplishments on that list was strongly related to how content you said you were. 

The Impulsively Generous June 26, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in blogging, blogs, Blogs and Blogging, COMBS, memes, Other, philanthropy, statistical analysis, tagging.
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One of the fun parts of statistical research is connecting data that seemlingly have nothing to do with one another.  For example, does one’s propensity to give too much money to charity have anything to do with the probablility that one has touched a cockroach? 

As it turns out, within the statistical sample I took of bloggers who responded to the 150 things meme, the answer is yes.  People who had at some point given more money than they had to charity were much more likely to have touched a cockroach. 

I intend to do a few more crosstabulations of the implications of my study of the 150 things meme and would be delighted to have this research directed by readers.  Just let me know about your pet theories (as they pertain to data in the 150 things meme) and I’ll run the numbers.  Obviously I need some sort of direction because there are more than 12,000 possible crosstabulations in this dataset. 

Anyway, I started with an analysis of question #24, (have you ever given more than you could afford to charity) because responses were almost evenly split, which gave me two samples of more than 100 to compare.  But the question also caught my eye because I work in fundraising.  So I’m always looking to shed more light on philanthropy, when I can.  What else does an extensive crosstabulation of question #24 tell us?  Those who had given more than they could afford to charity were significantly more likely to have

  • Bought everyone in the bar a drink,
  • Held a tarantula,
  • Taken a candlelit bath with someone,
  • Hugged a tree,
  • Watched a meteor shower,
  • Gotten drunk on champagne,
  • Had a food fight,
  • Asked out a stranger,
  • Held a lamb,
  • Seen a total eclipse,
  • Taken a midnight walk on the beach,
  • Milked a cow,
  • Pretended to be a superhero,
  • Started a business,
  • Fallen in love and not had their heart broken,
  • Crashed a party,
  • Recorded music,
  • Picked up and moved to another city just to start over,
  • Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild,
  • Changed someone’s mind about something they care deeply about,
  • Eaten fried green tomatos, and
  • Selected one “important” author they missed in school and read (them)

As they say, correlation does not imply causality, except when it does, of course.  Just because these people were more likely, as a group, to have eaten fried green tomatos than the non-impulsively generous group doesn’t mean that people who are careful and/or stingy have an aversion to that food.  But it sorta makes you think, duznit?  And if nothing else, these crosstabulations point in the same direction as every other bit of research that COMBS has produced and will ever produce: 

Needs more research.

Blogger, are You Experienced? June 21, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in blogging, blogs, Blogs and Blogging, memes, Other, statistical analysis, tagging, web 2.0.

Last week I began a statistical examination of blogger responses to the lengthy meme “150 Things,” which is a long list of experiences that bloggers have been tagging each other with for at least a year or so. (If you came here because of a trackback, I included your blog in the statistical sample). Those tagged copy the list and reproduce it on their blog, with their experiences/accomplishments in bold type.  Response percentages (from a sample of 222 blogs) may be found in a summary report here. They are probably more interesting to look at in that form.  But if you want, I could put together some bar charts from the data.  Let me know. 

The percentages are pretty easy to use, I think.  Just look at a question, like #7, for example.  Sixty-three (63) percent of the bloggers sampled have taken a candlelit bath with someone.  If you have not, that makes you a loser :).  Or take question #40.  Only one percent of the bloggers sampled have been to all 50 states.  If you have, that’s an extraordinary accomplishment.  If you have not, well, almost nobody else has.  Don’t let it get to you.  Some of them are a little boring anyway, I suspect. 

For those who prefer this stuff in narrative form, I must point out that this was a pretty eclectic group of questions.  At any rate, most (more than half of the sample plus a percentage to account for sampling error) of the bloggers who took the time to bold the tasks that they had accomplished are not the sedentary creatures portrayed in the mainstream media.  Although most have lounged around in bed all day at least once (59), they obviously don’t make a lifestyle out of it.  They just don’t have the time.

They are social.  Most have formed friendships with people they admire (42).  Sure, they have had their share of skirmishes with their buddies, involving food (27) or frozen water (30), but they are supportive when it counts (41).  Most have an impulsive (88), romantic streak (7, 49, 62, 83) and have professed their love to significant others (8).  Despite their geeky reputations some have broken hearts along the way (110).  But they have also experienced love without getting their hearts broken (68) and ended up getting married (72) and having children (or at least changing them—20).

They may have an undeserved reputation for geekiness.  Most have never played D&D for more than six hours (71) or written their own computer language (140), although most have at some point alphabetized their CDs (56).  These people have used firearms (116), most of them, and ridden a horse (118), perhaps at the same time.  They are not to be trifled with—most of them have eaten raw fish.  It takes guts.  I remember. 

Perhaps they are not extroverts, but they have, possibly via liquid fortification (23), cut loose a little (36, 58, 102, 146).Most have gone to drive-in theaters (65), ridden roller coasters (34, perhaps where they screamed as loud as they could–31), attended huge sporting events (15) and stayed up late enough to watch the sun rise (13).
Most have not traveled extensively, although most took a road trip at some point in time and have toured ancient sites, whatever those are (47, 69).

They are effective communicators, although not necessarily with words (138).  Most say they have changed peoples minds (129).  If they are not perfectly happy, this group has known happiness (38).

They are a do-it-yourself group.  They make their own food, from scratch, if necessary, watching it grow from seeds, perhaps, into sugar cane, corn, wheat, etc., grinding the grain, smooshing the corn to make oil, and turning the finished bounty into cookies (17, 77).

This is the first of a small series of posts on this particular meme.  If your blog didn’t get a trackback from this yet, and you would like to be included, just comment, link to this post (from your 150 things post, if possible), or wave your arms or something—I’d be happy to put you in.  And if anybody has suggestions for other memes that might be in interesting study, do please let me know.  I’m thinking about doing one of the book memes rattling around, since the format is similar.

The blogs sampled for this particular study are listed below, with links (many didn’t have actual titles, particularly the ones from MySpace, so I am listing them with only their ID numbers.)

001, 004, 005, 006, 007, 008, 009, 010, 011, 012, 013, 014, 015, 016, 017, 018, 019, 020, 021, 022, 023, 024, 025, 027, 030, 031, 032, 033, 034, 035, 036, 037, 038, 039, 040, 041, 042, 043, 044, 045, 046, 047, 048, 049, 050, 051, 052, 053, 054, 055, 056, 057, 058, 059, 060, 062, 063, 064, 066, 067, 068, 069, 070, 071, 072, 073, 074, 075, 076, 077, 078, 079, 080, 081, 082, 083, 084, 085, 086, 087, 088, 089, 090, 091, 092, 093, 094, 095, 096, 097, 098, 099, 100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, 120, 121, 122, 123, 124, 125, 126, 127, 128, 129, 130, 131, 132, 133, 134, 136, 137, 138, 139, 140, 141, 142, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 151, 152, 153, 154, 155, 156, 157, 158, 159, 160, 161, 162, 163, 164, 165, 166, 167, 168, 169, 170, 171, 172, 173, 173, 174, 175, 176, 177, 178, 179, 180, 182, 183, 184, 185, 186, 187, 188, 189, 190, 191, 192, 193, 194, 195, 196, 197, 198, 199, 200, 201, 202, 203, 204, 205, 206, 207, 208, 209, 210, 211, 212, 213, 214, 215, 216, 217, 218, 219, 220, 221, and 222.

Which words do you own?–Grasshopper Ramblings April 6, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in Blogs and Blogging, Other, statistical analysis, tagging, vocabulary.

[Note: This is part of a continuing series on the actual vocabulary in use in the blogosphere.  Posts on this subject started here and will continue on a weekly basis.]

With the latest blog in this series, Grasshopper Ramblings, I think we may be finally approaching some sort of limit.  Grasshopper added 562 words to the database, which now contains almost seventeen thousand distinct words from the eleven blogs sampled.  That doesn’t seem like a lot, compared to some of those I sampled recently, but consider this:  Only Grashopper Ramblings used the 562 words in this list.  As Mr. Spock might say, the odds are astronomical.

Which words?  The additions that she he used most frequently are in this cloud, below (click to enlarge). 


I have begun to think of these vocabulary clouds not as blogger fingerprints but as a new form of poetry or verse, for which I have yet to come up with a name.  Indulge me. 

You know how in ragas artists limit themselves to expression within the bounds of just a few notes?  Emotions are expressed through the way the strings are plucked, how they are inflected.  Or think of rap music, how it limits the male vocalist (usually) to a small range of tones, and syllabic stresses become very important to meaning.  This is like that, sort of.  Now read the cloud above aloud, varying both volume and pitch according to the font size.  There is a special prize for anyone who can get past the phrase “deathly dinosaur dissections dumpster” without cracking up.  Make sure you have a witness.

Better yet, construct an opera from the Venn diagram below.  Words in the left-hand bubble are to be sung only by Grasshopper Ramblings, but they must be varied in pitch and volume according to their font size.  Feel free to pull in words from the middle bubble to construct her his solos.  Words on the right must be used only by other cast members, Stiletto Girl, Moon Topples, Neil Gaiman, Raincoaster, etc.  But they may use words from the center as well. 


What would be a good title?  What would the story be about?  Where would it take place?  What would your opera look like, gentle reader? 

Which words do you own?–Moon Topples March 26, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in Blogs and Blogging, history, linguistics, Other, statistical analysis, tagging, vocabulary.

[Note: This is part of a continuing series on the actual vocabulary in use in the blogosphere.  Posts on this subject started here and continue even as I type this word.]

Despite Mr. Topples fears of not adding substantially to this database of words in use in the blogosphere, he brought 1,332 new words with his posts–not the record, but damn close.  Here’s a cloud made up of words that he and only he used of the nine blogs I have sampled thus far (click to enlarge image):


And here’s the other cloud diagram that shows, additionally, words that all other blogs so far have used but Mr. Topples did not, as well as words that all nine blogs used and Mr. Topples used more often (also click to enlarge).


The composition of both of these clouds is, I see, heavily influenced by the short-story contest that he ran, and some of the entries were included, since they were posted in time frame which included the sample.   The word vote is one such.  Words relating to vision, like eyes, and saw are also from that, I think.  I’m interested in the size of the word history, one of the words that everyone but Mr. Topples used.  Does this paint him as a thoroughly post-modern gen-xer?  I wonder.

I enjoyed putting together a story for that contest back when I was writing fiction.  I hope to resume doing so again soon.  So I’m now going to restrict these vocabulary of the blogosphere posts to once per week.  I know I said I’d do that before, but not I’m serious.   Really.

In related news, Anxious MoFo has developed a program in Perl now that samples words in a different but also interesting way.  Click here to bug him to reveal his coding secrets.

Finally, I’m still looking for a volunteer for the next sample.   If you’re interested, just let me know in the comment thread (so that others will know as soon as I get one). 

Which words do you own?–EelKat March 19, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in Blogs and Blogging, linguistics, Other, tagging, vocabulary, writing.

[Note: This is part of a continuing series on the actual vocabulary in use in the blogosphere.  Posts on this subject started here and seem to go on forever.]

Eelkat added 900 new words to the pile, from a sample of 20,000 words taken from her posts spanning February 26 to March 17, 2007.

The words in the cloud below (click picture to enlarge) appeared three or more times in the sample and not at all in the six other blogs that comprise the database.  They appear in a font size double the number times they appeared, except for “z-list,” which appeared seventy times and would have been too large at 130 point type. 


There are now 12,799 different words in the database, collected from sampling 110,000 words from seven blogs.

If anyone is still reading this and wants to be next, just link to this site and let me know.  If I don’t hear from anyone today I’ll probably do another A-list blog.  And they already have enough links; they don’t need another from me. 

I think that the next analysis will include three wordclouds put into a Venn Diagram that looks like this:


So there is a special bonus to the next guinea pig volunteer.

Which words do you own?–Alabaster Crippens March 17, 2007

Posted by caveblogem in linguistics, Other, tagging, vocabulary, writing.

I keep expecting that the next blog I add will not contribute any new words to this study, and that I will have to devise some other way to look at the data.  I have thought about this a great deal while I excise non-words and proper names from the samples.  One way would be to create a word cloud out of words that a blog uses much more frequently than other blogs do (so I’m not without a contingency plan). 

But there is no need to do this quite yet.  Mr. Alabaster Crippens added 839 fresh words to the pile of data that I continue to amass.  His most frequent addition was alabaster, which is not just a name, of course. 


I’ll resist the urge to psychoanalyze Mr. Crippens based on the next most popular group of words, but it is tempting to try.  I find it interesting that words that don’t seem all that odd continue to pop up in these samples.  I use the word “idiot” six or eight times a day.  Strange that it didn’t pop up until I added Mr. Crippens’ sample.  I’ve collected more than 100,000 words now, and 11,900 distinct words reside in the database.

And I have another volunteer for tomorrow or the next day, depending on when I get around to it.  I have never read EelKat‘s blog, but it looks to add some fresh words to the pile as well.