Leif Erikson + Text Analytics: What’s the Connection?
What Data Explorers and Researchers Can Learn from Leif Erikson and Norse Mythology
You may or may not be aware that Leif Erikson Day will be observed in the U.S. this October 9th. The holiday commemorates the discovery of North America by the Norwegian explorer for whom it’s named (long before Christopher Columbus took his voyage).
In Leif’s honor and the spirit of exploration, I thought this would be a good opportunity to indulge in two subjects near and dear to my heart: Norse mythology and text analytics.
Now you’re probably wondering what possible connection Norse mythology could have with text analytics.
The answer lies in the name OdinText.
To my dismay, I’ve come to realize that very few people outside of Scandinavia and Germany share my enthusiasm for Norse mythology. And not infrequently I get asked what our name is all about.
So today I’m going to explain the connection for the edification and enlightenment of all!
Odin: The One-Eyed God of Wisdom
OdinText derives its name from the Norse god, Odin, a figure similar in respects to the Greek god Zeus in that he’s something of a patriarch to a brood of other ancient deities.
Like his Greek counterpart, Odin is associated with specific human attributes and phenomena, chiefly battle and wisdom. It’s the latter quality that inspired us to adopt Odin’s name.
Legend has it that Odin—who is always depicted as missing an eye—sacrificed his eye in exchange for the “Wisdom of Ages.”
He is also said to have been attended by two ravens—Huginn (translation: “thought”) and Muninn (“memory” or “mind”)—who scoured the world each day for news and information and then reported it back to Odin each night.
Finally, Odin is credited with creating the runic alphabet, which until it was supplanted by Latin around 700 AD, was the source of text for many Germanic languages.
Two Ravens and Breakthrough Insights
The notion of Odin’s two intelligence-gathering ravens appeals to me as a metaphor for what I believe is the ultimate application of text analytics: to answer questions we don’t know to ask.
Of course, text analytics are perfectly suited to answer any questions we can think to pose, but in today’s uncertain and rapidly changing environment, insight that leads to true competitive advantage often lies in the questions we don’t know to ask.
You may be familiar with the term “dark data,” for example, which was originally defined by Gartner as all of the data organizations collect in their daily operations that goes unexploited. That definition has now been expanded to include the ocean of data being generated by people every day, more than 80% of which is text-based.
Today, thanks to software like OdinText, we have the opportunity to scour and mine these oceans of text data for what we don’t know we don’t know.
I’m talking about genuine, breakthrough insights, the sort that are discovered and not the product of a precision hunt.
So in celebration of Leif Erikson, the explorer, I urge you to join me in pursuit of discovering the unknown. You already have the data. Let’s put it to use.
You’ll be happy to know that unlike our friend, Odin, you won’t need to give an eye to acquire this knowledge. Just an hour of training.
Tom H. C. Anderson
888.891.3115 x 701
OdinText is a patented SaaS (software-as-a-service) platform for natural language processing and advanced text analysis. Fortune 500 companies such as Disney and Shell Oil use OdinText to mine insights from complex, unstructured text data. The technology is available through the venture-backed Stamford, CT firm of the same name founded by CEO Tom H. C. Anderson, a recognized authority and pioneer in the field of text analytics with more than two decades of experience in market research. Anderson is the recipient of numerous awards for innovation from industry associations such as ESOMAR, CASRO, the ARF and the American Marketing Association. He tweets under the handle @tomhcanderson.