Wednesday, July 14, 2010

One little, two little...

Having found a textual analysis thing-a-ma-jig
via Crooked Timber I decided to experiment with the tool. This is done by inserting text into a box to then get a matching author for that specific text thus suggesting that the first author´s writting is similar to the latter´s.

I started with "Ten Little Indians", a well known children´s rhyme.

One little, two little, three little Indians
Four little, five little, six little Indians
Seven little, eight little, nine little Indians
Ten little Indian boys.
Ten little, nine little, eight little Indians
Seven little, six little, five little Indians
Four little, three little, two little Indians
One little Indian boy.

The match is Daniel Dafoe . I wonder if this is really due to style or if it´s minority related, you know because of Friday. Anyway I proceeded to put Twisted Sister´s "We´re not Gonna Take it" under the microscope.

"Oh We're Not Gonna Take It
no, We Ain't Gonna Take It
oh We're Not Gonna Take It Anymore

we've Got The Right To Choose And
there Ain't No Way We'll Lose It
this Is Our Life, This Is Our Song
we'll Fight The Powers That Be Just
don't Pick Our Destiny 'cause
you Don't Know Us, You Don't Belong"

and the winner is...Kurt Vonnegut.

Twisted Sister = Kurt Vonnegut.

Humn, what if we insert an excerpt of Vonnegut´s 1973 novel Breakfast of Champions

"This is a very bad book you're writing," I said to myself.
"I know," I said.
"You're afraid you'll kill yourself the way your mother did," I said.
"I know," I said.

Text inserted resulting in J.D Salinger.

Kurt Vonnegut=J.D Salinger

Yet the program asks for at least a few paragraphs for the sake of accuracy and in fairness I tested Dafoe´s Robinson Crusoe using two and it checked out. Below three paragraphs, again from Breakfast of Champions.

"Dwayne was a widower. He lived alone at night in a dream house in Fairchild Heights, which was the most desirable residential area in the city. Every house there cost at least one hundred thousand dollars to build. Every house was on at least four acres of land.

Dwayne's only companion at night was a Labrador retriever named Sparky. Sparky could not wag his tail--because of an automobile accident many years ago, so he had no way of telling other dogs how friendly he was. He had to fight all the time. His ears were in tatters. He was lumpy with scars.

Dwayne had a black servant named Lottie Davis. She cleaned his house every day. Then she cooked his supper for him and served it. Then she went home. She was descended from slaves"

The software answered David Foster Wallace, wow.

This time around Kurt Vonnegut=David Foster Wallace.

Now for my final test. This entails selecting one of the previously tested authors and considering the resulting match, then getting the first name you associate with that author and inserting his work for analysis to see if the match is the same. I chose Twisted Sister (who was matched with Kurt Vonnegut) and the first thing that popped up in my mind was Quiet Riot and their song "Cum on Feel the Noize". So by association the match of the song´s lyrics should point to Mr. Vonnegut.

Let´s see what happens.

"So you think I got an evil mind,
I'll tell you honey
I don't know why
I don't know why

So you think my singing's out of time,
it makes me money
I don't know why
I don't know why, anymore
Oh no

So come on, feel the noise
Girls rock your boys
We'll get wild, wild, wild
Wild, wild, wild"

Wierd. The match is Mark Twain.

Quiet Riot, which should equal Kurt Vonnegut, = Mark Twain.

This method would suggest that, to me, Twisted Sister is to Quiet Riot as Kurt Vonnegut is to Mark Twain. I have concluded that the method is flawed and that I´d rather listen to a song than continue doing this.

End of experiment.


  1. The writing analysis I can chalk up to quirks of statistics and probability and programming.

    The Noize video? That's just gonna give me nightmares.

  2. Hang on. This is complicated by the fact that QR's version of Cum On Feel The Noize is a cover, hence you're misattributing the lyrics. The truth is that Twisted Sister is to *Slade* as Vonnegut is to Mark Twain, which sounds about right.

  3. @---etbnc. The only thing that bothers me about the Noize video is the striking resemblance between Quiet Riot's lead singer and this freakshow.
    Oh the horror.

    @---John B. I don't know about that. Quiet Riot seems to have improved some of Slade's songs, plus Randy Rhoades had some serious talent. I can't imagine Vonnegut doing the same in regard to Twain. I like Vonnegut but think Twain is just out of his league.
    I am assuming you were refering to differential regarding talent between each of the matches, perhaps that was not what you meant.