October 2, 2012

ReConstitution 2012 is Coming!

Every four years our nation’s potential leaders throw off the gloves and duke it out on the big stage. For the previous two elections, Sosolimited performed live audiovisual remixes of these Presidential Debates. This year, we’ve upped the stakes with our newest project, ReConstitution 2012. Part data visualization, part experimental typography, ReConstitution 2012 is a live web app linked to the televised US Presidential Debates. We are partnering with our good friends at The Creators Project to make it happen. Our site will be live for the 2nd debate on October 16.

The goal of the piece is to provide a massively annotated play-by-play of the candidates’ verbal jousting. During and after the three debates, language used by the candidates generates a live graphical map of the events. Algorithms track the psychological states of Romney and Obama and compare them to past candidates. The app allows the user to get beyond the punditry and discover the hidden meaning in the words chosen by the candidates. We teamed up with Professor James Pennebaker and his longtime researcher Cindy Chung at the UT Austin Department of Psychology to bring their natural language processing algorithms to a live application.

ReConstitution can be viewed as a data-rich companion with the televised debates, or as a stand alone experience. During the debates, the live transcript is streamed to the app and drives a number of graphical modes. Key moments, such as when one candidate gets particularly angry, trigger graphical annotations on top of the transcript. Repeated phrases and buzz words are called out. Users can scroll back through the transcript and see these analytical layers and how they factored into the debates. By touching the name of either candidate, the user can switch to a comparison view, where they can track the candidates in head-to-head metrics. Language processing algorithms expose the psychological state of each candidate, showing for example, how deceptively each one is speaking, and how they compare to past candidates.

ReConstitution will be debut on October 12 will be fully-loaded by the time of the second debate on October 16. We’ll continue to keep you updated.