Sourdough, as everyone knows, is having a moment.
The shelter-in-place orders that came down in mid-March prompted a surge in interest in baking in general and sourdough in particular.
Sourdough was arguably helped because it doesn’t require you to buy yeast, which has been in short supply.
My chart today shows the surge in news coverage about sourdough, an increase of anywhere from four to eight times its baseline and climbing.
But I want to use sourdough to make another point.
The chart juxtaposes counts of news articles about sourdough with articles that are about BOTH the bread AND the coronavirus.
Now, it can be argued that the burst in sourdough baking wouldn’t be happening at all without the outbreak, but a growing number of articles don’t specifically mention it.
The chart helps illustrate an emerging theme in news coverage: while the virus dominates everything, we are seeing fewer articles that are primarily about coronavirus.
For the data science geeks, the chart demonstrates another thing that is having a moment: the need to classify unstructured data so it can be measured.
It’s easy enough for most people to read an article and say whether its “about” coronavirus. It’s harder for a computer to do that.
But the need is clear. Last week, the Wall Street Journal highlighted how some scientists were turning to AI to compensate for the dearth of virus testing.
While interest in AI has been increasing steadily, this it could be expedited by the crisis.