Here’s a fun pair of tools out of IBM’s Watson project: the Personality Insights and Tone Analyzer.
For Personality Insights, I decided to put in two separate blog posts. The first blog post is my listing of three essential concepts in economics, written back in 2007. Because that’s only 3101 words and I needed 3500, I also added in a second blog post on the silliness of the “marketplace of ideas” concept, which bumped me up to 4479 words. Watson tells me, based on these two:
You are shrewd and skeptical.
You are philosophical: you are open to and intrigued by new ideas and love to explore them. You are empathetic: you feel what others feel and are compassionate towards them. And you are imaginative: you have a wild imagination.
You are motivated to seek out experiences that provide a strong feeling of efficiency.
You are relatively unconcerned with tradition: you care more about making your own path than following what others have done. You consider independence to guide a large part of what you do: you like to set your own goals to decide how to best achieve them.
I take shrewd and skeptical as compliments, but disagree on empathy and lack of concern with tradition…although 2007 me probably was more libertarian and less conservative than 2015 me.
Speaking of 2015 me, I decided to put in a medley of recent, technical posts, including Presentation Redundancy, Warehousing on the Cheap, and How to Troubleshoot Performance Problems. Watson says:
You are skeptical, inner-directed and excitable.
You are independent: you have a strong desire to have time to yourself. You are self-conscious: you are sensitive about what others might be thinking about you. And you are unconcerned with art: you are less concerned with artistic or creative activities than most people who participated in our surveys.
Experiences that give a sense of prestige hold some appeal to you.
You are relatively unconcerned with tradition: you care more about making your own path than following what others have done. You consider achieving success to guide a large part of what you do: you seek out opportunities to improve yourself and demonstrate that you are a capable person.
Again Watson says I don’t care about tradition. Aside from that, I can see agreeing more with this version of the result than the prior one.
By contrast, here’s my blogging partner in crime talking about Madden defense, Madden offense, and Madden, Madden, Madden, Madden, Madden (you’d think he was hooked or something). This gives Watson 4410 words with which to work, and it comes up with:
You are skeptical, somewhat indirect and unconventional.
You are unconcerned with art: you are less concerned with artistic or creative activities than most people who participated in our surveys. You are intermittent: you have a hard time sticking with difficult tasks for a long period of time. And you are proud: you hold yourself in high regard, satisfied with who you are.
Your choices are driven by a desire for organization.
You consider achieving success to guide a large part of what you do: you seek out opportunities to improve yourself and demonstrate that you are a capable person. You don’t find tradition to be particularly motivating for you: you care more about making your own path than following what others have done.
I’d call this a relatively fair reading. Of course, Watson personality tests share the same basic flaw as horoscopes: people go in wanting to see certain things, and they’re willing to ignore the parts that don’t make sense to absorb the flattery. You, as a smart, beautiful, and talented reader clearly know what I mean.
After seeing what a machine learning tool says about me, I decided to put the marketplace of ideas blog post through the Tone Analyzer. Compared to a business email—which is the default template for this demo—my blog post is much more analytical and confident. What’s interesting is that the tone analyzer told me that my writing was simultaneously confident and tentative; as well as angry, cheerful, and negative. I suppose “angry, cheerful, and negative” does tend to describe my writing style fairly well…
On the word count side, the analyzer picked up significantly more “social tone” than anything else:
I admit that I don’t fully understand the significance of this, but I do think it’s cool that there’s a machine learning algorithm which parses text and analyzes word choices for tone and writer traits. Check it out with some of your own writing if you’d like.