Friday News: building blocks of story, Snapchat faces lawsuit, Chennai book clubs, and cookbook archive
Data Mining Reveals the Six Basic Emotional Arcs of Storytelling – According to this new “data-mining” of 1,700 literary works in English (can you already spot some problems?) with more than 150 downloads from Project Gutenberg, there are a grand total of six “building blocks of complex emotional narratives.” Additionally, the team discerned that
the most popular are stories that follow the Icarus and Oedipus arcs and stories that follow more complex arcs that use the basic building blocks in sequence. In particular, the team says the most popular are stories involving two sequential man-in-hole arcs and a Cinderella arc followed by a tragedy.
This limited number of emotional arcs should not surprise Romance readers, of course, but the study received a pretty dismissive review from Lincoln Michel at Electric Lit. I think Michel may be projecting more self-importance onto the study than even its own team, especially when it comes to the question of complexity (I think the study team recognizes that they’re being necessarily reductive). But his claim that the range of works analyzed goes well beyond fiction is important (although contradicted by the MIT article) and his similarly reductive analysis is entertaining:
Quick, without doing any computer analysis, answer this question: if we declare there are only two directions (up and down) that X can move, and we say X can only switch directions up to two times, how many ways can X move?
Well… X can just go up (1). It can just go down (2). If X switches directions once, it can go up and then down (3) or down and then up(4). If it switches twice, it can go up-down-up (5) or down-up-down (6). Those six are literally every permutation possible. Guess how many types of emotional arcs this study claims to reveal? Yes, six. – MIT Technology Review & Electric Literature
Snapchat Sued Over ‘Perverted’ Disney Images – So is Snapchat a kids app now? Because celebrity attorney Mark Geragos filed a class action suit on behalf of kids (and their parents) who have been exposed to offensively “prurient” content on the curated Snapchat Discover. This reminds me of when Tipper Gore wanted to slap warning labels on sexually explicit music. Of course, some of the crap on Buzzfeed, especially, is offensive to pretty much everyone, so maybe we should all sue.
The suit, filed in federal court in California — claims that Snapchat Discover, for which Snapchat teams with media partners such as Buzzfeed, Vice and Cosmopolitan for content, offers “profoundly sexual and offensive” material to children.
The complaint goes on to state that Snapchat’s terms of service includes no warnings about the “offensive” content and that the Communications Decency Act requires providers such as Snapchat to notify users about parental controls that can help limit access to material that’s harmful to minors. – The Wrap
Rise of the book clubs – It definitely seems to be the year of the book club, and I wonder how (or if) the rise of clubs around the world is ultimately going to affect online engagement with and conversation about books. Anyway, this is a great story about the growing number of book clubs in Chennai, India, with creative names like “Broke Bibliophiles” and club activities like “book styling.”
Social media also helps these clubs thrive, with members meeting each other on apps like Goodreads and Meetup to arrange events. The talk continues beyond physical meetings, with active Whatsapp and Facebook groups making it easier to connect. “If I hadn’t gotten online, I wouldn’t have even known that some of these clubs existed,” says Kavipriya [Moorthy]. . . .
The experience of reading a book, knowing that it’s going to be shared with others, is deeply enriching, members believe. Book clubs have made them engage more with a book, read between the lines and think critically. “It’s made me a more aware reader,” says Kanmani Pandian, a member of the Azure Book Club. “I am now constantly looking for a deeper meaning in the text, a lesson of sorts, that I can pass on to other members when we talk about it.” – The Hindu
An Archive of 3,000 Vintage Cookbooks Lets You Travel Back Through Culinary Time – If you’re a “broke bibliophile” who loves to cook, you may be thrilled to discover the Internet Archive’s Cooking and Home Economics Collection. Behold the coolness:
At the Internet Archive blog, Jeff Kaplan highlights such works as the Pilgrim Cook Book, published by Chicago’s Pilgrim Evangelical Lutheran Church Ladies’ Aid Society in 1921 and including recipes for Sausage in Potato Boxes, Blitz Torte, Cough Syrup, and Sauerkraut Candy; 1912’s more subdued Food for the invalid and the convalescent, with its Beef Juice, Meat Jelly, Cracker Gruel, and advice that, “among other things, beer and pickles are bad for children”; and even older, 1906’s A bachelors cupboard; containing crumbs culled from the cupboards of the great unwedded which, warning that “the day of of the ‘dude’ has passed and the weakling is relegated to his rightful sphere in short order,” offers methods for the making of dishes with names like Bed-Spread For Two, Indian Devil Mixture, Hot Birds, and Finnan Haddie. – Open Culture