Una métrica para la imaginación popular

“A Metric for the Popular Imagination”.

Una métrica para la imaginación popular

En un artículo que actualmente reviso para su publicación, introduje la idea de que fetichismo como categoría de análisis en las ciencias sociales refiere a la concepción popular del fetiche. Uno de los editores del volumen -en el que ese trabajo sería publicado- me consultó sobre la evidencia que respalda mi argumento. “¿Cómo podemos saber que tales ideas responden a la imaginación popular? “ A través de encuestas, tal vez, pero no tenía sentido hacerlas en este caso, para el que de todos modos tendría una muestra muy escasa.
Después de pensar un poco, trabajé con algo de estadísticas sobre terminología utilizada en sitios porno, las que podían proveerme de evidencia acerca de las nociones populares de fetichismo.
En “Automatic Meaning Discovery Using Google”, Rudi Cilibrasi y Paul Vitanyi proporcionan un algoritmo que denominaron Distancia Normalizada de Google (Normalized Google Distance, NGD). La idea básica es sencilla aunque las operaciones matemáticas subyacentes son profundas. Si tenemos dos términos como “gato” y “ratón”, cada uno de ellos aparecerá en un número determinado de páginas web, y un número menor de páginas contendrán ambas palabras a la vez. Intuitivamente, esperamos encontrar el término “gato” unido más frecuentemente a “ratón” que al término “piojo” [nt: “cat”, “mouse” y “louse” son los términos que utiliza Turkell], “. La NGD formaliza la idea proveyéndonos de un instrumento que mide cuán separados están ciertos términos en el espacio conceptual.
Es tiempo de un hack. Escribí un simple script en Perl que utiliza las API de Google Search para calcular la NGD para un par de términos. Además he puesto a disposición el script para quien lo quiera probar.
Utilizando esta herramienta, podemos obtener una medida para la distancia entre el término “fetiche” y algunas asociaciones populares y académicas con el mismo. (Números más pequeños indican mayor cercanía.)


















Esposas de mano


















Acciones (de capital)


En este punto, Google realmente constituye lo que John Battelle denominó "una base de datos de intenciones”. Más sobre google en mi próximo post….



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