State of the Union Visualizer
May 31, 2006 7:31 AM   Subscribe

The State of the Union Visualizer(java applet) examines changes in the language of the State of the Union address over the past 200 years (Similar to The State of the Union Parsing Tool).
posted by The Radish (10 comments total)
There's an awful lot of "applause" over the last decade.
posted by Captaintripps at 7:35 AM on May 31, 2006

Yeah. I really dig the premise, but he needs to clean up the log files to remove the (Applause.) -- not sure where he's getting these from, but it really is a fascinating spectacle. I particularly enjoy the dumbing down of language over the past 60 years.

(enjoy to be read facetiously..)
posted by cavalier at 7:43 AM on May 31, 2006

Not a double, but see also.
posted by mcstayinskool at 7:49 AM on May 31, 2006

whoops. sorry Radish, looks like you already pointed that out. My bad there.

It's kind of disturbing looking across the W speeches...Afghanistan and Taliban loom large right after 9/11, then in 2003 everything's about Iraq. I know that doesn't forge any new ground, but it's just kind of weird to see in this form...
posted by mcstayinskool at 7:55 AM on May 31, 2006

what's 'Grade Level' mean?
posted by RufusW at 8:01 AM on May 31, 2006

I think 'Grade Level' is referring to the complexity of the language used, but that seems kind of bogus when our language was so different a few centuries ago. I'm sure saying 'coinage' meant more then than now...
posted by mcstayinskool at 8:05 AM on May 31, 2006

Is there any reason why the State of the Union is pre-inauguration in some post-election years (say, 1981) and post-inauguration in others (say, 2001)? I think a comparison of those two groups would be particularly interesting...

(Also, looks like 1989 and 1993 are missing altogether.)
posted by kittyprecious at 9:47 AM on May 31, 2006

kittyprecious, the SOTU used to be an end-of-year thing, in early December, which was probably just before Congress adjourned (probably for several months). FDR pushed it into January (by that time Congress was in sessino more often), but it still had the summing up of a year quality. Ike seems to have been the first to do a post-inaugural SOTU, but then he returned to the early January date and didn't change it when he was re-elected. But Truman hadn't given his usual January SOTU, which may have been by agreement, and under JFK and LBJ, the date slipped later into January. Since Nixon (with the exception of Ford) all the SOTUs have been late Jan/early Feb, and thus there isn't a conflict with an outgoing president having just given one.

The change seems to coincide with a greater use of the Presidency to push specific legislation.

One small thing I found: of all the Presidents since Reagan, the one whose SOTU had the highest Grade Level was ... Ronald Reagan. (Peggy Noonan probably wrote it.) Grade Level is probably Flesch-Kincaid.

Also, did not work in Firefox. At all.
posted by dhartung at 12:46 PM on May 31, 2006

According to the appendices dhartung is correct it uses Flesch-Kincaid Scores for the grade level.

dhartung, it seems to work fine for me in Firefox (1.5.03 on XP).
posted by The Radish at 1:37 PM on May 31, 2006

(Works OK for me, firefox, macosx 10.4.6... though I do often have trouble with java in firefox.)

This is very neat. Though partly just because reading old SOTUs is interesting.
posted by hattifattener at 10:20 PM on May 31, 2006

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