Thursday, January 25, 2007

Quantitative Communications

There's a popular misconception that communications is necessarily a soft and fuzzy arts-style profession focussed on what words sound right. Even among so-called communications "professionals", there's the belief that communications analysis and practice is purely qualitative.

In fact, like many other areas, there is a hard, numbers-based and rigorous side to the field. In communications, one of those sides is content analysis. It simple means looking at communications products or whathaveyou and analyzing for patterns or information or forms to determine meaning.

Sounds complicated? It certainly can be but it doesn't have to be. I've seen enormously complex content analysis done for scholarly purposes where a solid advanced degree in statistics would be a boon in figuring out what it all meant. On the other hand, a simple count of which member of government appears in the media talking about what issue and how that changes over time can be very helpful in figuring out the latest government strategy.

What sparks off this little essay is this gem of a page in the New York Times. It's a wonderful interactive real-time content analysis of the last 7 State of the Union Addresses delivered by George Bush.

Check it out; it's fascinating!

I only wish we had the equivalent for Throne Speeches.

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