Deep inside Google, a small team has been trying to solve a problem that's easy for any schmuck around the watercooler but frighteningly difficult for the world's most data-rich company: telling a story.
🎧 Season 2 Episode 6 The King of Tears | Revisionist History
Revisionist History goes to Nashville to talk with Bobby Braddock, who has written more sad songs than almost anyone else. What is it about music that makes us cry? And what sets country music apart?
Why country music makes you cry, and rock and roll doesn't: A musical interpretation of divided America.
Beauty and authenticity can create a mood. They set the stage, but I think the thing that pushes us over the top into tears is details. We cry when melancholy collides with specificity.
—Malcolm Gladwell in The King of Tears
He then goes on into a nice example about the Rolling Stones’ Wild Horses:
And specificity is not something that every genre does well.
This reminds me of a great quote in Made to Stick from Mother Theresa about specificity.
Mother Teresa once said, “If I look at the mass, I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.”
There’s something very interesting about this idea of specificity and its uses in creating both ideas as well as storytelling and creating emotion.
There is one related old country music joke I’m surprised not to have seen mentioned here, possibly for length, tangential appropriateness, or perhaps because it’s so well known most may call it to mind. It plays off of the days of rock and roll when people played records backwards to find hidden (often satanic) messages.
Q: What do you get when you play a country music song backwards?
A: You get your job back, your wife back, your house back, and your dog back.
The episode finally rounds out with:
If you aren’t crying right now I can’t help you…
Thanks Malcolm, I was crying…
In the past three years, police shootings have sparked an unprecedented series of protests across the country.
Obama’s Secret to Surviving the White House Years: Books | The New York Times
In an interview seven days before leaving office, Mr. Obama talked about the role books have played during his presidency and throughout his life.
Not since Lincoln has there been a president as fundamentally shaped — in his life, convictions and outlook on the world — by reading and writing as Barack Obama.
Continue reading Obama’s Secret to Surviving the White House Years: Books | The New York Times
The emotional arcs of stories are dominated by six basic shapes
Advances in computing power, natural language processing, and digitization of text now make it possible to study our a culture's evolution through its texts using a "big data" lens. Our ability to communicate relies in part upon a shared emotional experience, with stories often following distinct emotional trajectories, forming patterns that are meaningful to us. Here, by classifying the emotional arcs for a filtered subset of 1,737 stories from Project Gutenberg's fiction collection, we find a set of six core trajectories which form the building blocks of complex narratives. We strengthen our findings by separately applying optimization, linear decomposition, supervised learning, and unsupervised learning. For each of these six core emotional arcs, we examine the closest characteristic stories in publication today and find that particular emotional arcs enjoy greater success, as measured by downloads.