There is an interesting Twitter thread about the upcoming Trump / Putin summit in Helsinki. Leah McElrath has picked up one of Trump’s tweets and is using what appears to be a hybrid methodology to read it. I am still deciphering it in my head and unpicking the various parts but some of this is an initial reading of my own
These tweets today from Trump’s account use some very specific and distinct language. (They definitely aren’t written by him.)
So…I got curious and started researching. And I’m going down a rabbit hole that is weird af. That’s all I’m going to say right now. pic.twitter.com/TIhkMlLu3G
— Leah McElrath (@leahmcelrath) July 15, 2018
Link to the entire head tweet of the thread here:
Starting with the language, a close reading identifies issues and potential cracks in the discourse, which is followed up by other commentators and also thrown into relief by her own links. The grammar also comes in for checking, not just at the tweet level, but also through the mediation of digital devices such as the keyboard or the inbuilt grammar options of Word.
The TrumpOrNotBot (Twitter, The Atlantic, GitHub) determines whether it is sent by Trump or not but does so through the metadata as well as the words. The use of a machine to read in the computational data is by no means new but I find it intriguing that both are being deployed to determine a meaning within the tweets.
Neither a pure human nor a pure machine approach might achieve the same result but working together, they work achieve a more in-depth reading. There is a certain amount of the social machine here as well as making me think of centaur chess. Thinking less computationally and more historically, I also wonder how this fits in with the history of reading, especially salons.