Saturday, August 7, 2010

v2, d138: WOF #8a: A Thousand Words (introduction)

So here's a feature idea that I've been kicking around for awhile.  It may only be a cool idea in my head.  It may be a cool idea that I'm not cool enough to execute, thus it feels like a lame idea even though it is not.  It may not be a cool idea at all.  Nevertheless, here's the concept:

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  Who came up with that quantitative conversion rate from visual to verbal?  Is that an average, is it an estimate, is it an overestimate?  Perhaps it's a thousand words for the person who originated the saying but only, say, seven hundred words for someone like me.  Maybe it's implied that a good picture is worth a thousand words, but a mediocre picture would only net you three-hundred sixty-eight. 

Has any research been done on this at all?

Well, I'm really not going to bother finding out.  Instead, I'm just going to assume that I'm the first man in history to attempt to tackle this problem scientifically. See, words are precious to me (despite my tendency to spend them rather exorbitantly), so I'd like to have some way of gauging their intrinsic value.  Who knows?  The results of this experiment may revolutionize the way writers are paid for their work.  (This novel is sixty-seven thousand words, so I'll pay you forty thousand dollars and Starry Night, with sales bonuses to be uploaded to your flickr account)

The extremely scientific experiment (which will begin tomorrow) runs as follows: I'll pick a random word or phrase and enter it into the equally scientific Google image search and choose a picture.  I will then write as much as I can about the photo.  When I'm finished writing, I'll complete the Trifecta of Science by using Open Office's Word Count tool to see how close to one thousand I got.  After enough of these things, we can even start using super-duper-scientific things like math to figure things like averages and differences and possibly prime factorizations, multiplication tables, and indefinite articles.  It will be a perfect union of art, science, mathematics, language, and awesome. 

Now, I know I may have lost a few of you with my highly technical description of the intent and execution of this exercise, so I'll put it in layman's terms:

I'm going to choose a picture from the Internet and write about it for as long as I can, then a Computer will count the words for me.  Afterward, we may or may not have cupcakes. 

You could buy a lot of cupcakes with that Nobel money.