January 17, 2005

A Steve Jobs Concordance

Just for yuks I watched Steve Jobs' keynote at last week's Macworld SF with a tally sheet and a pen, noting all the superlatives used in his speech and how many times they were used. Given that this was coming from the man who gave the world "Insanely Great", there were quite a few of them. So, just as proof that people really will post the most ridiculous rubbish to the Internet, here's my Steve Jobs Concordance Of Superlatives (as well as various other bits of "interesting" speech which I observed). It's all entirely unscientific - I may have missed some or tagged some twice or whatever and I'm certainly not going to watch the whole thing again just to verify the numbers.

  • Great - 31 instances
  • Amazing - 20
  • Incredible - 19
  • Boom! - 19
  • Fantastic - 13
  • The (somethingest) (something) in the world, and other similiar constructions - 13
  • Cool - 11
  • Stunning - 9
  • Unbelievable - 7
  • Beautiful - 4
  • Repeating big numbers - 4
  • References to "mere mortals" - 4
  • Gentle digs at Microsoft - 3
  • Awesome - 3
  • Huge - 3 (at least!)
  • Astounding - 2
  • Super-hot, Killer, Remarkable, Spectacular,Wonderful,Magnificent - 1 each

It's interesting to observe that what have been seen as the most significant product announcements, the Mac mini and iPod shuffle, seemed to have the lowest SPS (Superlatives Per Sentence) ratings. I presume this is because things like the price and tininess of the mini are significant enough to speak for themselves without needing further emphasis.

The numbers above relate only to Steve's speech - the various other people who spoke are not included as it's not their speech patterns we're analysing. The CEO of Sony, it's interesting to note, hardly used any superlatives at all other than to suggest that people might be "blown away" by some of the stuff they have in the pipeline, and even that sounded a little forced. Of course, he's Japanese rather than Californian...

Of Steve's most famous construction, "Insanely Great", there was no sign at all. The closest match was one description of something as being "Incredibly Great", which is not quite the same.

Posted by mpk at January 17, 2005 2:55 PM | TrackBack

You know, I was watching this speech and wondering how many times Steve Jobs was going to say "cool". Not as often as I thought, it turns out. Thank you, mpk. :-)

Posted by: Sierra at January 19, 2005 6:12 PM
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