Watson Personality Insights and The West Wing

Is This a Hazing?

No, I’m really going to talk Watson + The West Wing.

Okay, let’s just get this out of the way. I am a fan of the The West Wing. An obsessive, will binge-watch over and over, knows every line, am constantly referencing, Bartlet is my President kind of fan.

While maybe not as big (I think it should be bigger) as the fan base or fanaticism of my previous post about Game of Thrones, The West Wing has quite the following, and a number of plot lines that, after my 15th or so time watching in its entirety, I can appreciate being served by Watson.

Let’s take a step back. For those of who haven’t seen The West Wing, I’m sorry. It is a tremendous piece of art that remains relevant today, 17+ years after its premiere. Side note: if you’re reading this and have wanted to watch it, but haven’t gotten there yet, I volunteer as tribute to watch with you. Virtual viewing party! I digress. So, The West Wing is, at its heart, a show about those that work in the west wing of the White House – go figure. Those that serve at the pleasure of the president in the purest sense. There’s obviously politics involved, but it’s beautiful, rational, even-sided politics. As a viewer, it’s an education in idealism and civility. The cast brings you in and doesn’t let go, while doing their famous “walk and talk”. I am completely in love with every cast member. They have my heart. Bartlet for America all the way.

Have I mentioned the writing yet? The reason why I and so many others continue to watch, for the 1st time or for the 15th; is because, in addition to a phenomenal cast, the writing is exquisite. Aaron Sorkin, the master, crafts these characters into real, flawed, funny, captivating human beings.

So, where does Watson come in? Given the impeccable writing, I knew that Watson’s Personality Insights API would be key to this conversation.

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Watson Personality Insights is a service that uses linguistic analytics to infer individuals’ intrinsic personality characteristics from digital communications such as email, text messages, tweets, and forum posts.

The science behind this service is fascinating, blending psychological theory with analytics algorithms to analyze and return a profile of the author based on three widely used personality models. Big Five personality characteristics (agreeableness, conscientiousness, extroversion, emotional range and openness) describe how a person engages the world. Needs describe the aspects of a product a person will resonate with. Values describe motivating factors that might influence a person’s decision making. Bottom line: these insights are accurate and have wide applications.

The West Wing monologues, particularly Bartlet’s, are legendary. I was curious to find what insights would be uncovered from them. More, if would I agree with the output.

Provisioning a free service on IBM Cloud took seconds. Now, let’s play!

Screen Shot 2017-12-04 at 8.34.48 AMGiven that I’ve recently been inspired into another watching, I knew which monologue I wanted to analyze. Here’s a peek.

“…The streets of heaven are too crowded with angels, but every time we think we have measured our capacity to meet a challenge, we look up and we’re reminded that that capacity may well be limitless…”

If you’re interested in some goosebumps, check out the entire speech here.

The results are spot on.

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In addition to a personality narrative, you’re provided with a breakdown of the results.  Now, I was a psychology major and am fully aware of the Barnum Effect. This isn’t a general horoscope anyone can find truth in. The more you train Watson, the more accurate it becomes.

Bartlet’s data breaks down as follows:

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Or, check out this sunburst visualization.

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Beyond this project, driven by my love for The West Wing, Watson Personality Insights has a vast application potential.

Imagine offering the most personalized shopping experience, in real-time. Acquiring customers via targeted messaging and incentives. Responding to your customer’s individual needs, strengthening relationships and loyalty. Meeting your soul mate by candidly sharing your values and needs. This is happening now!

Seeking scalable infrastructure with cognitive capabilities to “help organizations track online conversations about their products and services in real time and understand their impact”, Orenda Software Solutions developed an “innovative social media measurement software” on IBM Cloud, using IBM Watson Personality Insights, resulting in a flexible environment with room to grow as needed.

Be sure to check out our most recent episode of Unsupervised Binge Watching: the (data) science of good TV, where Erica Reuter and I discuss The West Wing and The Good Place.

Want to analyze your own Twitter personality, or general piece of writing? Try it for yourself here. Have an idea about how you can use Cloud Cognitive Computing in your organization? Let’s connect.

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