The Syllabi and by – Fall 2020

To create the sketch for this week, I took the text from the main page of the syllabus for each of my classes this semester and played with it a bit. I thought it would be interesting to see if any patterns popped out!

Screen shot of an generated poem based on the text of my class syllabi for Fall 2020 at ITP - Image B
Screen shot of an generated poem based on the text of my class syllabi for Fall 2020 at ITP – Image B

After following along with the video “Coding Challenge #40.1: Word Counter in JavaScript”, I decided to see how much of that I could replicate myself after watching the video. I was able to get quite a bit of it without having to refer, unfortunately, I got stuck quite a bit. This exercise took about 3 hours to complete, but I really enjoyed taking about, smashing together, and looking to see if there were any interesting bits in the text.

If you’re curious, my classes this semester are “Programming A to Z”, “Reading and Writing Electronic Text”, “Time”, and “Imagination and Distributed Learning.” As far as the details of the execution of this sketch, I copied all of my syllabi from my classes and compiled them into one file called “syllabi.txt”. I didn’t do much massaging of the data beforehand, with the exception of removing student names, websites, and email addresses. 

Following the challenge flow, I imported the text. I had it join by space, “ “, then broke up the text up by separating each thing that wasn’t a space and adding it to an array. Once I had the words in an array, I could see which ones were most and least common. From there, I broke the words up into groups based on how many occurrences there were of each word. (These groups are 100+, 50-99, 25-49, 15-24, 10-14, and then groups for each word that had 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 instances in the text.)

Next, I created a sentence by displaying random words from each grouping arranged in order using the groupings above (in that order.) I also did a little work to figure out how to capitalize the first word of the sentence and added a number of random punctuation options to put at the end. I also tried creating a reset button, but I wasn’t able to figure out how to clear the previous text so that it didn’t show from behind, so I just left it off. One other quirk for this assignment is that there are a number of the last parts of contractions, ie ‘ve’, ‘s’, ‘t’ and a number of roman numbers that appear in the text; however, i did use a RegEx, (!/\d+/), to prevent numbers from appearing in the results.

If you want to check it out yourself, here’s a link to the sketch and the code used to produce it!

Personally, I didn’t necessarily feel like there was a pattern to pull from the sentences that came up for me; however, I do appreciate how the rarer words appear at the end of the sentence, making it more interesting as you go along. I hope you enjoy learning about what I’ll be learning about this semester!