Hugh Pickens writes "Kevin Kelly writes that researchers at the Social Computing Lab at HP Labs in Palo Alto have found that social media content can predict real world outcomes. In their study, the researchers built a model that used chatter from Twitter to predict accurately the box-office revenues of upcoming movies weeks before the movies were released. When the sentiment of the tweet was factored in (how favorable it was toward the new movie), the prediction was even more exact. To quantify the sentiments in 3 million tweets, the team used anonymous workers from Amazon's Mechanical Turk to rate a sample of tweets, and then trained an algorithmic classifier to derive a rating for the rest. But predicting box office receipts may be only the beginning. 'This method can be extended to a large panoply of topics [PDF], ranging from the future rating of products to agenda setting and election outcomes,' the researchers write. 'At a deeper level, this work shows how social media expresses a collective wisdom which, when properly tapped, can yield an extremely powerful and accurate indicator of future outcomes.'"