Machine learning to find movie ideas

Speaking of A.I. and fiction, Adam Epstein for Quartz reported on how Wattpad, the platform for people to share stories, uses machine learning to find potential movies:

Wattpad uses a machine-learning program called StoryDNA to scan all the stories on its platform and surface the ones that seem like candidates for TV or film development. It works on both macro and micro levels, analyzing big-picture audience engagement trends to identify the genres picking up steam, while also looking at the specific stories that got popular quickly and calculating what made them so appealing.

The tool can break stories down to their vocabularies and sentence structures (a story’s “DNA,” if you will) and then compare those to other stories to deduce what really makes a work of fiction popular. It also looks at how often users comment on stories and, when they do, what exactly they’re saying. Its goal is to examine all these clues to uncover the precise combination of story elements—genre, emotion, grammar, the list goes on—that hooks audiences to the point they’ll follow its journey onto a visual medium.

Maybe I’m just getting old, but this sounds terrible.

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Maps of the movies and their characters

Andrew DeGraff painted maps that show the geography in movies and their characters’ paths. Above is the map for Back to the Future, with 1985 Hill Valley on the top and 1955 Hill Valley on the bottom.

There’s also a book version. [via kottke]

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Marvel size chart

The logistics of being a 60-foot man must be a pain.

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Marvel Cinematic Universe as a 3-D network

The Straits Times visualized the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a 3-D browsable network. Link colors represent type of relationship, and proximity naturally represents commonalities between characters. Click on individual characters for information on each. Turn on the sound for extra dramatics.

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Original map of Winnie-the-Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood

The ink-drawn map of Hundred Acre Wood by Winnie-the-Pooh illustrator E. H. Shepard dates back to 1929. I’m headed straight for Eeyore’s gloomy place, which is rather boggy and sad. The drawing is up for auction, in case you’re interested in dropping a couple hundred thousand dollars. [via BBC]

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All the Harry Potter spells, when they were used

I often stare far into the distance and ponder world’s greatest questions — like when specific spells were used in the Harry Potter books. No longer. This straightforward chart by Skyler Johnson pinpoints when each spell was explicitly said in the books and what each does.

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Star Trek character network

Star Trek visualization

Star Trek fans rejoice. Mollie Pettit from Datascope Analytics visualized the interactions between all the characters in all the movies, series, and episodes.

This visualization shows interactions between characters in the Star Trek Universe based on the episodes or movies you have selected.

Each circle represents a character, and links represent interactions between characters. The more interactions between two characters, the thicker the link between them; similarly, the more interactions linked to a particular character, the larger the circle representing that character.

Just select the episodes or movies and click, “Engage!” Bonus points for the nerdy theme. [Thanks, Brian]

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Guide to spotting data BS

As we delve deeper into election season, politicians will spit out more and more statistics to lend some factitude to their talking points. Some are real, and others will be less real. David Spiegelhalter for the Guardian provides a nine-point guide on how to sift out the latter.

On estimates and margin of error:

Next time you hear a politician boasting that unemployment has dropped by 30,000 over the previous quarter, just remember that this is an estimate based on a survey. And that estimate has a margin of error of +/- 80,000, meaning that unemployment may well have gone down, but it may have gone up – the best we can say is that it hasn’t changed very much, but that hardly makes a speech. And to be fair, the politician probably has no idea that this is an estimate and not a head count.

Ah, that makes me feel so warm and fuzzy inside.

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Timelines show Star Wars character interactions

Return of the Jedi

Remember when xkcd charted character interactions for fictional stories? Inspired by that and the upcoming Star Wars movie, Katie Franklin, Simon Elvery and Ben Spraggon made interaction charts for every episode of the galactic space opera.

The one above is for Return of the Jedi. The horizontal axis represents time, and each line represents a character. The vertical bars show when the corresponding characters appear together.

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