KMO & Ben Blatt

022 Digital Humanities with Ben Blatt

20 Oct 2022 • 57 min • EN

Description

Ben Blatt is a former staff writer for Slate and the Harvard Lampoon. Ben is a numbers guy who has taken his fun approach to data journalism to topics such as Seinfeld, map-making, the Beatles, and Jeopardy.

This conversation centers around Ben's book "Nabokov's Favorite Word is Mauve" (2017). It's a book about what we can learn about writing and authors based not on what they say, or what impressions we get from reading their books, but on something that results from applying rigorous data analysis to their actual texts. Specifically, KMO and Ben discuss:

  • 00:25 – Moneyball and its influence on Ben
  • 02:12 – The attraction of baseball for analytical people
  • 04:25 – Ben's interest in numbers and writing
  • 06:40 – Patterns, correlations, and writing advice
  • 10:00 – -LY adverbs
  • 12:00 – British vs American English
  • 14:40 – Bloke, blimey and the Harry Potter Effect
  • 16:00 – Loud vs quiet verbs
  • 19:08 – Pronoun and characters stats
  • 20:00 – Comparing authors' noise levels
  • 23:00 – Gender differences in literature
  • 27:50 – Professionals and amateurs: the statistical differences
  • 30:25 – Reading fan fiction
  • 32:50 – Restraining style choices to foster creativity
  • 34:50 – Revising one's novels
  • 36:00 – Fame and success affecting one's writing style
  • 38:00 – Data tools
  • 40:15 – Vonnegut
  • 42:10 – The validity of "write what you know"
  • 43:10 – Digital Humanities and Franco Moretti's "Atlas of the European Novel"
  • 47:15 – Ben's advice for aspiring writers
  • 50:15 – Creating writing and progress in AI
  • 52:05 – Ben's next project

Ben (The Guest):


KMO (The Host):


Padverb:


From "The Padverb podcast with KMO"