January 24, 2007

Parsing the State of the Union

Since I missed the State of the Union speech, I've been avoiding the talking heads on TV and heading instead to the Internet. I plan to at least skim the text of the speech, but there are so many other fun ways to get the highlights.

First up, style.org's State of the Union Parsing Tool. I remembered a site that visualized word usage and compared the 2004 debates, so I went googling to see if they did the same thing for the SoTU (get it, posh? :). I still haven't found that site (hit me up in the comments if you know it), but I stumbled upon the extra-cool Parsing Tool.

As one friend put it: “Since it’s so obvious that the speech is ruthlessly curated before presentation, it’s interesting to note how often and where certain features appear.”

Rather than discuss the style or presentation of the Address, I’d like to take a comparative graphic look at two easily-measured features: sentence length and word incidence. (my emphasis)

The above link is to an outdated article/explanation of the tool; however, they do have last night's speech already entered into the database. Search for words or phrases, or compare the occurrence of two words. A good place to start is "September" and "terrorist".

Next up, the US Presidential Speeches Tag Cloud. Be sure to use the slider to browse through hundreds of Presidential speeches. Notably, but not surprisingly, the top word in every Bush speech since 9/11 is "terrorist," followed closely by "Iraq." The top two words in every Clinton State of the Union address were "families" and "economy." Interestingly enough, those were top in Bush's first address (pre-9/11).

Last but certainly not least is the State of the Union Heatmap. Pluggd’s HearHere™ technology allows you to jump to the exact position in an audio or video file where there is something you want to hear. Say what?

Pluggd is pitting President Bush's State of the Union Address against the Democratic response in a feature called State of the Union SMACKDOWN! Pluggd lets you search through both speeches simultaneously using HearHere™, allowing you to compare how both parties address issues such as the war in Iraq, health care, national security, and education.

Here’s how it works. Instead of listening to the whole speech, I only want to hear the President talk about families. I enter the search term (or click one of their pre-defined search link), and Pluggd then searches for instances of that term and related terms within the audio file. Relevance to your keyword is displayed on the audio timeline with a heat map -- sections of the audio most related to your keyword are red (hot), unrelated are blue (cold). Hover over any colored point on the timeline to see the terms that Pluggd determined were related to your keyword.

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