Allegoro Communications | Weekend Zen with Deb Roy – The Birth of a Word
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Weekend Zen with Deb Roy – The Birth of a Word

Deb Roy is a professor at the MIT media lab. His research combines artificial intelligence and cognitive psychology, and spans across a wide breadth of domains such as language and social analytics.

In this inspiring TED talk, he explains how he performed a longitudinal study with his son as a test subject to track the evolution of his son’s language acquisition. With the help of his research team, using closed circuit cameras and microphones in every room of his house, Roy was able to capture 8-10 hours of continuous visual and auditory data for over three years. His talk particularly highlights how important it is for us to realize the wonder and complexity involved in language learning, something that we take for granted while being immersed in the day-to-day activities of our lives. One specific area he attempts to explore through this large and rich collection of data is the influence of social environment on language learning. Through the use of mind-blowing visualizations of the data both temporally and contextually, Roy shows two interesting phenomena; 1) how social environment influences his baby, 2) how his baby influences the social environment around him.

Roy goes on to discuss the broader global implications of this type of data analytics in other forms of mass communication. President Obama’s 2011 State of the Union address is provided as an example to illustrate how people are communicating in real time, in response to the content of his speech, and the context in which they are communicating. In other words, when content is being generated, how does it get communicated? What are its ramifications? How does this communication feed back into the content, thereby determining its importance?

There is something extremely gratifying for a parent to (a) present this data of his son’s language learning journey, from a baby to a three year old, and (b) derive parallels in other forms of mass communication. The talk provides us a glimpse into a couple of endearing parental moments when we hear a 40-second audio clip of his son’s language progressing from “ga ga” to “water” and when we watch his son take his first steps.

Communication has changed today, given the plethora of social media outlets. What is important, is for us to realize the significance of these communication data analytics and their implication, in terms of their social impact.

by: Sohini Bhattacharya (Co-Founder & Partner) & Naresh Vempala(Founder & Partner), Allegoro Communications

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