RStudio Projects

By Patrick Larsen

This post includes links to websites created for my Applied Media Analytics course, in which I used the programming language R to find stories in big data.

Text Analysis:

For this project, I used text of every Presidential Inaugural Address in the history of the United States to try to find interesting trends around major historical events or trends.  I used the Bing sentiment lexicon and ggplot2 to get to and display my findings.

For this project, I furthered my experiments with text analysis, this time opting to use data from the Twitter API.  Specifically, I was interested in analyzing tweets from and about Kanye West, as this project was being done in the wake of his chaotic return to the social media platform.  I used a couple of different sentiment lexicons and visualization packages to find and display my results.


For this project, I scratched the surface of R’s mapping capabilities by comparing the adoption of Naloxone to the number of opioid overdose deaths throughout North Carolina.  It took a lot of work in the leaflet package, but it wasn’t terribly difficult to find interesting discrepancies in the data once I got it all working.


Hello Ermengarde: an interview with actress Tara Willey

By Patrick Larsen

Cast of Hello Dolly! – Department of Performing Arts

After countless of work, Hello Dolly! has taken the stage at Elon University.  The combined efforts of dozens of actors, directors, set builders, costume makers and other technical workers have created a piece of art that is ready to showcase.  Tara Willey, an Elon sophomore, provides some insight on the work that went into the acting side of the show.

For more information, visit this article about the show.

Automation in the Workplace: Can People Keep Up with Machines?

By Patrick Larsen

Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 6.01.03 PM
Quote from Janna Anderson

You hear it more and more all the time – science fiction is quickly becoming science fact.  A world filled with robots to do all of our work for us while we lie back and relax, not a care in the world, is a dream of the 20th century.  It looks like it may well be a reality of the 21st.

Lots of people are asking, however, if this way of life is really what we want.  After all, humans have been working with some structure of employment for millennia at this point.  So much of an economy’s worth is based upon the ability it has to regularly employ citizens.

Now, experts at McKinley, a global management consulting company, have calculated that as many as 1.2 billion employees could be affected by automation.

Janna Anderson, educator and researcher

Now, Janna Anderson, professor at Elon University and researcher for Pew, says that “every job will be affected by artificial intelligence.”

Obviously, this has serious implications for human employment moving forward which will be difficult to grapple with.  People will increasingly have to think about what skills they need to compete in this marketplace.

According to Anderson’s report for Pew, about 70% of 1,408 respondents think that “new educational and training programs” will emerge and be successful.  One of these experts included Justin Reich, executive director at MIT Teaching Systems Lab.

“Educators have always found new ways of training the next generation of students for the jobs of the future, and this generation will be no different,” Reich said.


“You have to be a jack of all trades,” Anderson said.  “You need to understand a wide variety of things and be curious and excited about lifelong learning.”

Some Elon community members expressed their views on the issue as well.

“You need empathy, sympathy,” René Jackson, Associate Director of Career Services for Grad School Programs said.  “You need things that a computer cannot provide.”

Jackson stressed that she particularly meant one on one jobs such as doctors, designers and other jobs that we think of as requiring understanding between two parties.  Even so, she seemed uncertain that even these jobs would remain safely with human workers.  Jackson also sees a possibility in working to maintain the machines.

“Jobs like manufacturing I think increasingly continue to be assigned to computers, but somebody’s got to run them.”

She ultimately expressed concern at the increasing level of automation, citing uncertainty that enough jobs could be found.

Hannah Greenwood

Hannah Greenwood, Elon first year seems to understand where the workplace is headed.

“Technology in the workforce is inevitable,” Greenwood said.  “There’s a growing knowledge base about how robots are going to come into play.”

As for how to deal with this as people, however, she seems less sure.  She does think that adding new classes relating to finding work in a changing field of employment is important.

Craig Morehead, English professor at Elon, is very interested in this topic.

“I know what I’ve read and researched: basically, that automation is one of the most pressing issues facing our workforce labor for the foreseeable future. I believe that not enough people are doing the long term thinking and planning that this issue requires,” Morehead said.

He tells his students that flexibility is the most important thing moving forward in order to avoid being replaced and that education reforms need to be carried out.

“It will take all sides involved to rethink the kinds of interdisciplinary models of education that we can emphasize that will better prepare students for the conditions of the future labor market.”

As a professor, Morehead is especially concerned because “some of my fellow educators and my students are not as aware of this issue as they should be.”

Ultimately, there will be tons of changes throughout the rest of the 21st century.  Will we be living like Jetsons or are we getting too big for britches?  Only time – and the hard work of humans and machines – will tell.

Students Unsurprised by Elon Poll Results at Trump’s 100th Day

By Patrick Larsen

Graphic/Statistics by Elon Poll

The Elon Poll has just released data from their surveys conducted April 18-21, 2017.  The results indicated that North Carolina voters were displeased by President Donald Trump’s general performance, as well as his use of Twitter and the border wall.  It was also found that approximately half of North Carolinians think the government should move on from repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act to other issues.

Jason Husser, director of the Elon University Poll, sees that the Trump administration is not getting traditional support.

“Typically, presidents enjoy strong support during their first 100 days, even from former opponents or critics,” Husser said. “The Trump presidency is different. His level of support both for himself personally and for his key policies is as low as we’ve seen them in the history of opinion polling.”

Of three Elon students interviewed for this story, only one was surprised by the results:

“If it was mainly conducted within the research triangle, I’m almost surprised it’s not less of an approval rating,” said sophomore Thomas Coogan.

Graphic/Statistics by Elon Poll

Coogan was not surprised, however, by the poll results regarding Trump’s Twitter account.

“Even Trump supporters are like ‘knock it off,'” Coogan said.  “He’s getting less likes as the weeks go on.  When he’s blaming other people, it doesn’t go over well.

Coogan seems uncertain of what the future holds for Trump.

“There’s only so long you can scapegoat before people say, ‘you’re not the person for us.'”

He thinks that the 2018 midterms could be a turning point, with traditionally red areas who voted for Obama potentially switching blue again.

Kristin O’Neill

Sophomore Kristin O’Neill was neither surprised nor amused by the results.

“Doesn’t surprise me,” she said.  “I wish it was that way earlier.”

O’Neill also anticipates the approval ratings to go up and down in the future because some people want to like Trump and some people just want to hate him.

Sophomore Betsy Albritton also understands the ratings, saying that “there aren’t a lot of reasons to like him.”

She also acknowledged that a large portion of North Carolina is red, which might be why he has such even approval and disapproval ratings.

It’s worth noting that North Carolina has shifted since the election, with 50% of voters choosing Trump and 46% choosing Clinton.