The Best of Creative Computing Volume 2 (published 1977)

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An Analytic Examination of Creative Computing (humor, letter distribution)
by David H. Ahl

graphic of page

With a computer file of every voter in an entire constituency, or in a specific
target group, along with his
address and telephone number, a campaign can canvass voters to determine their
likelihood of voting favorably. The results can be fed into the computer file at
regular intervals so that on election day volunteers, operating from a print out
of names and addresses can "pull" favorable voters.

Politicians have always rated the electorate in this way, but in the past
non-machine politicians have had to rely on their general judgments of
districts. lf a campaign manager assumed that a given district will, for
whatever reason, vote overwhelmingly in favor of his candidate, the natural
reaction was to concentrate organizational efforts in that district.

Computerization makes it possible totreat each voter and his voting preference
individually, as part of what amounts to a universal poll.

And that isn't all. A good program can provide lists of undecided voters whom
the campaign's noise might affect, analyses of the electorate and its component
parts to facilitate decision making, a basic family mailing list for printing
labels, records of identifying characteristics such as profession and type of
residence, geographic sorts for specialized mailings, etc. The only limitations
to the information that can be stored and retrieved with speed and ease are the
number of characters on the computer card and what you intend to do with the

Naturally, the larger the campaign, the more unwieldy a computerized canvassing
operation becomes, but campaign managers often treat anything larger than a
Congressional district in semi-autonomous segments. Entire states have been
canvassed in this way.

In effect, then, computers have insinuated themselves into modern politics as
much as they have into every other phase of life in the 197O's, from how we
receive our pay checks to how we spend it and everything in between. And for the
same reasons. lt's simply easier and faster to deal by computer with the numbers
and complexities of what has in the past been done manually. The political
computer specialist takes what the politician has always done and does it more
quickly and more accurately to allow campaign planners and directors to maximize
the impact of the time, money, and resources at their availability.

[image]"Before attempting to determine the country's next president, I suggest
you try something comparatively
simple, like who the class president will be!"

An Analytic Examination of Creative Computing by David H. Ahl


Creative Computing has an untarnished reputation as an impartial journal
concerned with the most fundamental issues of computers in education and one
which welcomes contributions from all comers. Yet it appears that Creative
Computing is so concerned with its galactic responsibilities that it has
overlooked the constituent elements of the words between its covers. Without
these words, Creative Computing readers are speechless. Words become part of
phrases, phrases become part of sentences, sentences become part of articles,
and so on.

Therefore, it is imperative to examine the content of the words in Creative
Computing. Creative can not rest on its laurels but must be subject to analytic
examination to prevent any distorting biases from unwittingly creeping by the


A random sample of words was chosen from a random sample of issues of Creative
Computing. The letters in each
word were classified according to an ancient Indo-European System. For example,
an "a" in any given word was tallied under the column heading "a," whereas a "b"
was tallied under the heading "b," etc. ln a sample of 1709 words, the following
distribution was obtained:

a 1723 b 339 c 395 d 549 e 2283 f 117 g 161 h 283 i 1605 j 62 k 216 l 327 m 172
n 494 o 617 p 271  q 49 r 445  s 438 t 382 u 1173 v 38 w 172 x 12  y 228 z 6

Mean usage of letters varies from 23.724% for the letter "e" to .069% of "z."
This is attributable in some degree to the corollary finding that Creative
Computing authors tend, all other things being equal, to prefer more words
containing "e's" than "z's." More research on this point is urgently needed to
uncover the reasons for this preference. The magnitude of this difference,
significant beyond the .00001 level of confidence, raises the unwelcome specter
of some underlying literary bias that can no longer remain unnoticed by Creative
Computing editors.

From a correlation matrix, other biases of Creative Computing authors were
uncovered. For example, of the 49
instances of a Creative Computing author employing the letter "q" he invariably
prefers to follow it with a "u."Also, such letters as "i," "b," and "m" are
frequently used consecutively. However, we seldom find the sequence "x,""d," and
"s." Why should such glaring biases exist in a journal noted for its fairness
and neutrality?


You, the readers of Creative Computing, must demand from the contributors and
editors a more uniform distribution of the most basic elements of the words used
in Creative Computing which so profoundly influence its entire content and
outlook. Use your computers to keep track issue by issue of whether a more
homogeneous distribution is being obtained. Cojxr sqally kibmz!

(Portions of the above article were plagiarized from an article in The Journal
of Irreproducible Results by Alvin Howard, PHD. My apologies. -DHA)

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