Ds Scholarship

SoGES lead scientist Pat Keys uses computational text analysis to create Arctic region science fiction based on science facts

The process

Keys said his team took a decade of English-written news stories and opinion pieces – more than 2,000 in all – and ran a computational text analysis that identified 10 patterns of keywords. Those 10 themes were crafted into stories.

“I didn’t want to necessarily exclude opinion, in part because the whole point of this was, ‘What are people talking about regarding the future in the Arctic?.‘A lot of that is opinion, and that is OK,’ Keys said. “What I wanted to do in this project is take something that was very quantative – this computational text analysis – and see if we could take the output, that is those themes and topics, and use those as the starting point for something very creative. ”

Keys and his then-undergraduate assistant, Alexis Meyer, authored the stories using a story-based scenario and science fiction prototyping. A video describing the process.

“My futures colleagues like it,” Keys said. My (computational text analysis) non-futures colleagues are like, ‘What are you doing?’ Those two groups of people almost never mix. And so, one thing that I think this does is that it helps provide a conversation piece that links two communities, two disciplines, two groups of people that are thinking about the future, that do not rub shoulders very often.”

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