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HP Social Networks Science

Real-World Outcomes Predicted Using Social Media 93

Posted by kdawson
from the wisdom-of-crowds dept.
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.'"
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Real-World Outcomes Predicted Using Social Media

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  • Psychohistory! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rog7 (182880) on Friday April 02, 2010 @01:26PM (#31708004)

    These social network predictions were already predicted by the late Mr. Asimov. ;)

  • In other words... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 02, 2010 @01:32PM (#31708066)

    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.

    In other words - Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

  • Psychohistory? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drunken_boxer777 (985820) on Friday April 02, 2010 @01:35PM (#31708114)

    Is this an early experiment in the development of psychohistory [wikipedia.org]?

    Hari Seldon would be proud.

  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Friday April 02, 2010 @01:35PM (#31708116)
    It works until marketing departments at big companies start gaming it in a big way.
  • Summary Mistake.. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 02, 2010 @01:38PM (#31708166)

    "'At a deeper level, this work shows how social media expresses a collective wisdom which, when properly manipulated, can yield extremely powerful and profitable future income..'"

    - Fixed That For You.

  • No shit sherlock (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BitZtream (692029) on Friday April 02, 2010 @02:00PM (#31708388)

    Yes, 'the crowd' generally has a pretty good idea of what 'the crowd' is going to do.

    If you ask me if I'm going to go see a movie or not than my answer is probably going to pretty accurately reflect what I'm actually going to do.

    I'm not exactly sure why this is surprising? Marketers have been doing this for years. They announce products that haven't even hit the drawing board yet. If they get a good response in the form of inquires and other types of interest, they build the device. If they don't then it will just go away.

  • by YesIAmAScript (886271) on Friday April 02, 2010 @02:06PM (#31708454)

    Forget the mechanical turk. Just tell me the marketing budget of a movie and how many screens it's going to open on and I'll give you an estimate of the take. It's a pretty strong correlation on large-release movies.

    Hollywood has worked so hard to remove the actual quality of the movie from the equation. Get the movie onto a lot of screens early and spend a lot on advertising. Get people in to see it on the first 3 days (Fri, Sat Sun, or Wed-Sun in some cases) before any info about the movie that you don't control (i.e. other than promos) gets out.

    Many movies make around half their total theatrical take in the first weekend of release.

  • Re:Keep Joss Going (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 02, 2010 @02:13PM (#31708516)

    Yes, just what we need, more idiots talking about how 'deep' his shows are. How great he is for 'addressing moral issues'.

    I don't think I can take another Buffy. FireFly was fine right up till Serenity when it just turned into to much of 'moral' story than a space western.

    Heh...you only realized that they were addressing moral concepts in Firefly when the movie came out, and we're the idiots? From the very start that show has been about how Big Government is evil.

  • by Beorytis (1014777) on Friday April 02, 2010 @02:14PM (#31708522)

    It works until marketing departments at big companies start gaming it in a big way.

    No need to game the system when you've already gamed the users! How do you think all these twitterers know to talk about movies before they're released?

  • No kidding (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pavon (30274) on Friday April 02, 2010 @02:20PM (#31708580)

    The quote in the article is such crap:

    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.

    No it doesn't show that at all. It shows that what is popular in twitter is popular in the real world. In other words, it shows that twitter is close enough to a representative sample of the general population for many practical purposes. That is all. It doesn't have anything to do with collective wisdom, nor does it help you predict any outcome unless it is primarily dependent on popular opinion.

  • Polling! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by brit74 (831798) on Friday April 02, 2010 @03:40PM (#31709292)
    Wow. It's like psychohistory - uh, wait - isn't this really just doing a poll? Hasn't this already been done for decades? Just poll a small number of people in the general population, and you can "predict" all kinds of things - like elections before they happen? Sigh. The only difference between this and regular polls is that this is less scientific (since they make no effort to find a random selection of people from the population). It's probably a little better than online polls (probably less manipulation) and a little worse than scientifically-designed polls.

There is no distinction between any AI program and some existent game.

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