Wednesday, January 14, 2009

RB: Julia, Jan 14, 6:51pm

Truth be told, we sort of like Britt. From what little we know of him. We can just see him and his darling girlfriend rolling their eyes at the antics of Our Lady of Introspection. But 38% is pushing it:

What happens when a future physicist gets bored at MIT and decides to analyze his sister’s blog. Pretty impressive, B.

And PS? “ 38% Insightful” - TEESHIRT! Or book title? Hmm.

From: Julia’s Little Brother Britt
Date: January 14, 2009 6:27:04 PM EST
To: “Julia Allison”
Subject: Julia Allison is 38% Insightful

Yo Baug,

After your thrilIing departure from Chicago I was debating with Mom about the ratio of quality content on your lifecast compared to some of your shallower postings. Prima facie, I thought your quality content would make up something like 10-20%. I didn’t ask her outright, but judging from her tone, I would guess Mom might have suggested something more like 2%. Since my office-mate is in Thailand and my adviser has yet to return from Spain, and since I really didn’t want to study for my qualifying exam today, I decided to quantify the issue.

Initially, I just skimmed over your last couple of posts, and I came to the conclusion that about 10% of them had merit. That methodology, however, has some fatal flaws. First, when you go to a party or have a photo shoot, you are likely to have six posts of pictures of the event. Whereas if you have something meaningful to say, it is usually composed in a single long post. This artificially weights your lifecast toward the trite (and might explain some of the disconnect between what you think you put out and what others perceive). To compensate for this effect I decided to compare word count instead of number of posts. That lead to the conclusion that about 45% of your writings hold merit. But that still seemed a little misleading. The last couple of weeks might not be very representative of JA as a whole; half the time you were at CES (a dearth of meaningful content) and before that you had a bunch of new year’s posts, with a lot of self-reflection.

Thus, to accurately quantify how much admirable content you regularly publish I decided to use a random number generator to choose an arbitrary 10% of the posts from your archives. Then I compared the word count of posts I thought had real value to the word count of everything else. By this method I concluded that 38% of your published writing actually concerns important issues.

Obviously, this is entirely contingent upon what I deemed valuable. My working definition for the task was that any thoughtful discussion about career, family, friends, relationships, health, or life goals/meaning/reflection counted as valuable. Everything else did not. You could argue that some of the other posts have merit. But by excluding them wholesale, I think it makes the conclusion more resilant.

The two major caveats to this result are that this makes no statement as to whether what you actually say about these important issues is true, good advice, or even defensible. And it also doesn’t attempt to quantify what, if any, negative effects your posts may have. But overall I think it is still a really interesting result.

I also graphed the data chronologically to see if you were getting more or less profound, but I couldn’t discern any meaningful trend or pattern. I attached the graph.


Wow. Just … wow.

1 comment:

  1. It's clear her mother has long thought that her only daughter is a vacuous mentalcase. There are clearly tensions between them. So not only is she the laughing stock of Manhattan media circles and the online community, but of her own family. I don't know -- that sort of thing might cause me to wonder: "Is it me?"