Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Summer Course in Computational Models of Political and Social Events

From the Polmeth listserv:
Summer Course in Computational Models of Political and Social Events
Claudio Cioffi-Revilla <ccioffi@GMU.EDU>
April 03, 2009 @ 02:24:20

Kindly circulate among colleagues and students interested in computational
social science and/or social simulation:

The Lipari International School on Computational Social Sciences will take
place this summer, July 18 - 25, 2009, on the Mediterranean island of Lipari
just north of the coast of Sicily, Italy. Researchers interested in the
emerging field of computational social science, especially but not
exclusively computational political science theory and simulation models,
are encouraged to consider this as an opportunity to learn more and become
acquainted with a variety of research frontiers.

Claudio Cioffi-Revilla, Ph.D.

Professor of Computational Social Science
NAS Jefferson Science Fellow
Director, Center for Social Complexity
Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study, George Mason University
Research-1 Bldg MS 6B2, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030 U.S.A.
tel (703) 993-1402, fax (703) 993-1399,
Research & Teaching
 MASON Project

"All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the difficulty
is to discover them."--Galileo Galilei

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Monday, April 2, 2012

Help wanted: What, exactly, is "entertainment"??

What does it mean to be entertaining?  I realized last weekend that I don't really know. (Insert joke about clueless quants here.)  I mean, I know "entertaining" when I see it, but defining it in a way that's measurable is tough.

For example, I imagine that most people would agree that the Onion is usually more entertaining than C-SPAN.  But why?  What is it about the content that's different?

Here are a few more examples.  I imagine most people will agree with me on the Daily Show, Onion, and all the things in the less entertaining column. To my mind, on a scale from "not entertaining at all" to "very entertaining," Gawker, Fox News and MSNBC seem less entertaining than John Stuart, but a lot more entertaining than the New York Times.  That is, they're trying harder to grab and hold onto viewers' attention.  The use a lot of the same gimmicks.

More entertaining  Less entertaining
The Daily Show
The Onion
Fox News (?)

Foreign policy

All this matters because I'm trying to measure the difference between entertaining and non-entertaining content in political blogs.  For this kind of research, it's not enough to say "Blog X seems more entertaining to me than blog Y."  I need to measure entertainment, and show that other people can replicate my measurement (After all, repeated measurement is the starting point for all science.)

To get there, I've been trying to write a "codebook" (like a survey, but about text instead of opinions) to measure entertainment in blog posts and news coverage.  Here's what I've got so far.

Can you think of things to add?  I'd really appreciate your ideas and suggestions...

How well do these statements describe this article: very well, somewhat well, a little well, or not at all well?

Not at all A little Somewhat Very
This article is written to be entertaining.
This article is written in a serious tone.
This article includes jokes and/or other humor.
The tone of this article is sarcastic and/or ironic.
This article includes sexual references, imagery, or innuendo.
The writing in this article is engaging---it gets and holds the reader's attention.
The writing in this article is flat---it doesn't do much to hold the reader's attention.