The Quantified Communications Blog

  • Jan 28, 2014

    Super Bowl Victory Starts with Words

    By Briar Goldberg and Carrie Goldberger

    January 28, 2014

    You find out life’s this game of inches. So is football. Because in either game, life or football, the margin for error is so small – I mean one-half a step too late, or too early, and you don’t quite make it. One-half second too slow, too fast, you don’t quite catch it.” – Any Given Sunday

    With the Super Bowl just around the corner, sports analysts, Las Vegas bookies and fantasy football die-hards pore over team statistics, commentator analysis, and betting odds, all with the hope of identifying that special something that will bring one team to victory.

    But what if, at the end of a long season, when a team has come so far, the key to securing the Super Bowl ring isn’t hidden in the number of rushing yards or completed passes. What if the difference between winning or losing comes down to the words spoken by the head coach in the locker room before the team even steps onto the field?

    It happens in the movies all the time. The underdog team faces its toughest enemy, convinced they’re going to lose until the coach, the fearless leader, gives the speech of his life, inspiring the team who, of course, go on to win the big game.

    If those locker room speeches are as powerful as Hollywood makes them out to be, then the coach with the greatest oratory power will be kissing the Vince Lombardi trophy come Sunday night.

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  • Dec 31, 2013

    Speaking of 2013: The Language of Innovation

    By Noah Zandan

    December 31, 2013

    As 2013 comes to a close, lists of the “Best of 2013” fill our news feeds and dominate the covers of magazines in the check-out line. This year, CNN’s Ten Thinkers of 2013 caught our attention. CNN picked ten innovative people in the fields of science and technology that are considered “visionaries whose ideas are shaping our future.” The list includes people like Elon Musk – CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX; Andrew Ng – co-founder of the online learning site Coursera; and Mary Lou Jepsen – a pioneer in the field of computer displays who has worked on projects such as Google Glass and the driverless car. This choice of innovators got us thinking:

    How do innovative people communicate? Is there something special about the language they use that helps them to stand out?

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  • Dec 12, 2013

    Nelson Mandela: Confidence to Inspire

    “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” - Nelson Mandela

    By Carrie Goldberger and Corinne A. Kratz, PhD

    December 12, 2013

     

    Nelson Mandela passed away at the age of 95 last Thursday, December 5. Before becoming the first democratically elected South African president, he spent 27 years in prison for challenging the racially oppressive, apartheid regime of South Africa. A memorial service was held in Johannesburg Tuesday morning. Tens of thousands of South Africans and more than 90 world leaders gathered to pay tribute to the man President Obama called, “the last great liberator of the 20th century.” In the poignant Ghanaian phrase that marks the passing of such an elder and statesman, “a great tree has fallen”.

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  • Dec 05, 2013

    And the Award for the Least Government Gibberish Goes To...

    Center for Plain Language

    By Noah Zandan and Carrie Goldberger

    December 5, 2013

    Clear writing is essential in business. Whether you are writing an email, memo, speech, or developing a presentation, it is vital that your intended audience be able to fully comprehend what you are trying to say the first time around, without having to wade through unnecessary and complicated language. More importantly, the ability to write clearly can have a significant effect on the bottom line. According to the book, Writing that Works by Kenneth Roman and Joel Raphaelson, the Veterans Benefits Administration saves $500,000 a year by training its employees to write clearly.

    So what is clear writing and how can you tell if your writing could use some work? There are many different methods used to evaluate the clarity of written content. The most common is called the Flesch-Kincaid score. This score measures reading ease and comprehension difficulty using a formula to evaluate the total number of words, total number of sentences and total number of syllables used. Similar measurements include the Gunning Fog Index, the Simple Measure of Gobbledygook (SMOG), and the ATOS Readability Formula. They all use varying forms of algorithms to analyze the clarity of written text.

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  • Oct 25, 2013

    “The Most Trusted Man in America”

     

    Walter Cronkite, the legendary broadcast journalist on CBS Evening News for 19 years, has often been described as “the most trusted man in America.” He reported on major historical events such as the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the moon landing, and the Vietnam War. It’s been said that his authoritative speaking style was what inspired his listeners to trust him as a reliable and steadfast source of information.

    So what is it about Walter Cronkite’s style and voice that earned him such a title? To find out, we used our quantified communications technology to analyze the content of Walter Cronkite’s most famous broadcasts and his vocal delivery of these memorable events. And for comparison’s sake, we benchmarked Mr. Cronkite against current broadcast journalist Anderson Cooper.

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  • Oct 11, 2013

    Is Siri the Perfect Voice?

     

    Visualization of Siri’s voice

    By Noah Zandan and Carrie Goldberger

    October 11, 2013

    Last week, voice actor Susan Bennett came forward as the voice of Siri, Apple’s voice-activated virtual “assistant”. Bennett says that in 2005, she sat in a recording booth for four hours a day during the month of July, reading phrases that would be put together to create a synthetic voice. Her voice has been used in GPS systems, ATMs, by Delta Airlines, and now as the voice of Siri. Because Apple would not comment on whether or not Bennett is actually the voice of Siri, CNN hired an audio forensics expert to compare the two voices. The expert, Ed Primeau, found Siri’s voice and Bennett’s voice to be a 100% match.

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  • Oct 03, 2013

    Not All Tweets Are Created Equal: What Language Makes Tweets Matter Most?

     

    By Noah Zandan and Carrie Goldberger

    October 3, 2013

     

    There is no denying the growing power of Twitter. More than 200 million monthly active users send out 200 billion tweets per day, allowing tweeters to reach massive audiences in real time and for free.

    And Twitter matters for businesses. Market research found that Twitter users who see tweets from a retailer are 1.2 times more likely to make an online purchase from that retailer’s website. A similar study found that “while 4% of average Internet users completed sign-up on a B2B tech site, Twitter users converted at more than double the rate (11%).” Making a mark on Twitter can help drive your audience to action.

    With the average tweet containing less than 50 characters, how do you make sure your voice is heard among the 3 trillion words shared on Twitter every day? What will make your tweet stand out from the rest?

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  • Sep 26, 2013

    Is Tim Cook a Better Presenter than Steve Jobs?

    By Noah Zandan and Carrie Goldberger

    September 26, 2013

    Steve Jobs was known as one of the most charismatic public speakers in history. He successfully created such a buzz around new products during his keynote speeches that it became common for people to line up for hours outside an Apple store to purchase the latest products. With the passing of Steve Jobs, many people wondered what would become of Apple. Would Tim Cook be able to create the same communications buzz around new products?

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  • Sep 19, 2013

    The Yelp Review Filter is Broken

    By Noah Zandan and Carrie Goldberger

    It is no secret that user reviews greatly influence consumers’ purchasing decisions. According to a study from Harvard Business School, a one-star increase on Yelp, a popular rating website, led to a 5 to 9 percent increase in revenue for businesses. How do you know when a review is fake? Many of the largest user review websites, like Yelp and Amazon.com, are trying to come up with automated ways to eliminate fake reviews. But how effective are their algorithms? How many authentic reviews are thrown out in the process?

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  • Sep 12, 2013

    How to Spot a Fake Online Review

    By Noah Zandan and Carrie Goldberger

    September 12, 2013

    Note: This is part 2 of our two-part series on online user reviews. To see part 1, click here.

    In last week’s blog post, we revealed whether positive or negative user reviews matter more to potential customers. This week, we turn our attention to deceptive reviews.

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