Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Presenting the Digital Information Experience (DIX) rating for political discourse

The blogster has written extensively about lists, for instance, the paramount importance of "the candidate list" in German elections. There are lots of good lists many people would love to be on, for example, the list of Olympic gold medal winners, the Forbes 500 richest list, most eligible bachelor/bachelorette. Then there are negative lists, including any personal sh** lists, various watch lists, the no-fly list, the list of death row inmates of Texas, you get the idea.

Others are ambiguous, typically waiting lists for things such as housing or organ transplants. Being on any of these indicates a problem, yet the mere fact of getting on such a list may point to better times ahead. Oftentimes, you may not even be aware of the existence of a list that has your name, rank, and serial number on it. And if you do find out by chance because the ADC forgot to shut the padded door to the inner sanctum and two gents talk really loud (a combination of decades near things that cause intense booms and the habit of barking orders), trust me, you do not want to be in the category "extremely competent but independent".

One of the areas for which the blogster determined a disappointing absence of ranking is political discourse. Cartoonists sporadically do drawings one could call "Pinocchio index", where a long nose indicates lying. But it is unsatisfactory, too dependent on the individual brush stroke and frequently lacking context.

Rating political discourse is also extremely hard, because we love our political beliefs, because there is so much ritual and group membership, with no accepted standard of neutrality.

The best so far has been fact checking with a nice truth-o-meter. The subtleties, the euphemisms, the non sequiturs, the many shades of "non statements"  - they remain elusive.

The blogster, never short of delusions of grandeur, decided to propose a system that could form the start of the start of a debate on finding a more rigorous rating scale than the common binary "you suck" or "brilliant leadership".

Because of the emotional energy in politics, the blogster did not want the name to contain "rating" or "ranking". Its* initial name for the scheme was Digital Infotainment Component Katalog. Digital is always good, Infotainment was supposed to hint in a not subtle manner at the purpose of much of political discourse, Component meant "part of speech", and Katalog was just that, a catalog, but with a decisive and authoritative K instead of the hunched, bent over, weak looking "c".

"Dick", said the K-Landnews TheEditor.


The acronym is Dick, you can't do that.

Oh, shucks, sorry.

After a good cry (don't tell anybody), the blogster came back with a new name: Digital Information Experience, or DIX.

Well, well, .....well, DIX it is, said TheEditor.

At the heart of DIX, there will be a digital algorithm, a smart one, that uses "sentiment analysis" as well a a corpus of speeches and interviews gathered surreptitiously from the internet.

Once nicely sliced and diced, the algorithm will assign a ranking to a speech or article, etc., on a scale of 1 to 10. The numbers won't be shown to the public, though, because they might offend some who have trouble with math and others who don't like the historical attachment of our number system to the Arab world.
Instead of Muslim Sharia numbers, users will see something less threatening, maybe cute little Facebook-Twitter hearts, maybe stars, maybe a series of sweet stylized hamsters - we'll see what the focus group likes best.

Once the rating system goes public, the blogster will publish the underlying corpus. This, in turn will generate a whole new eco-system of corpus critique and improvement suggestions.
All that needs to be done then is find a way to monetize this meta discussion. And voila, from nobody to meta pundit in a few months.

* Gender neutrality is it, folks.

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