Why Decode 100 Days?

Tim Stock
Tim Stock
Apr 30, 2017 · 3 min read

Decode. 1a : to convert (something, such as a coded message) into intelligible form: to recognize and interpret (an electronic signal) 2a : decipher 3ab : to discover the underlying meaning of.

The United States is now on the other side of 100 days. The President has officially dedicated his first days in office to restoring prosperity, safety and security, and accountability. #100days trended on Twitter, and headlines covered the range of sentiment from admonishment on Intercept.com, to praise on Breitbart.com, to disdain on Vanity Fair.

So much effort goes into analyzing passages of time such as this. Analysts, researchers and reporters live for milestones. It helps bring an organizing sense to the world, especially when the commander in chief is hurling tweets at a rate of almost a dozen a day.

An interactive timeline shows Trump’s tweets over 100 days. Colors denote archetypes based on linguistic signifiers. The vertical axis of the timeline represents sentiment of tweets. (Culture Mapping Tool)

Apparently, only so much can be processed because even that novelty is fading. The Independent reported that Donald Trump’s tweets received less engagement in his second 50 days in office than in his first, according to an analysis by the Associated Press and media analytics nonprofit Cortico.

The constant strive is to understand, but the real question is “Why does it matter to understand?” Sure, the immediate return is knowing the context of a situation. But the more that is known, the more learnings can be applied to get beyond any stalemates and gaps of innovation. The bigger and more connected the world gets, the more layers need to be unpeeled to reveal behavior and get to the raw material needed for research.

Signifiers are assigned to Trump issues and reveal connections. Cultural patterns emerge from these key signifiers associated with each issue. The key is in tracking how issues are recast as cultural stories with new meaning via language. (Culture Mapping Tool)

Just looking at language alone, people use words and visual language to express their thoughts whether it’s about politics or consumer goods. Yet not one of these single behavioral incidents (tweets, in this case) has meaning on its own. Individually, messaging does not have equal weighting — no matter how much pause it gives us. Yet, over time, such patterns of behavior certainly do have meaning. As a whole, the patterns demonstrate the ideologies of the deliverer of the message. This is true no matter what is being looked at.

A line graph compares Trump archetypes as a system of contrapuntal narratives. This framework is helpful in framing forecast scenarios and developing creative interventions when critical dissonance is revealed. (Culture Mapping Tool)

There is a fundamental advantage of combining anthropology with data science to understand the larger perspective of what is happening and overcome personal biases in research. Really, what researchers are after is to make sense of a human being and the context behind their words. The patterns that emerge cluster and form archetypes of ideology. These archetypes begin to tell their own story.

We used our Culture Mapping method to transform our own hunches about the first 100 days into scientific evidence. Our corpus was a collection of @RealDonaldTrump and @POTUS tweets from January 20th 2017 to April 29th 2017. Using computational linguistics, we were able to measure without being deductive. Through a hybrid of quant and qual techniques, the data tells a compelling narrative without ever reading into it. We can now forecast a likely future-planning scenario.

Our Culture Mapping tool and its Trump tweet data will be available for anyone to interact with in the coming weeks. Please stay tuned. If you would like more information, please reach out.

— by Marie Lena Tupot and Tim Stock, scenarioDNA inc.

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