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Real-World Outcomes Predicted Using Social Media

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the wisdom-of-crowds dept.

HP 93

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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This is great for one thing: (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31707984)

Predicting what a bunch of assholes who use twitter will do.

Re:This is great for one thing: (1)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708040)

It would have predicted that Snakes on a Plane would have been the highets grossing movie ever.

Re:This is great for one thing: (2, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708340)

Enough is enough! I have had it with these motherfucking twitters on this motherfucking web! - Samuel L. Jackson

Re:This is great for one thing: (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708480)

And considering that the majority of the movie going public are assholes, it's perfect for predicting box office revenue--or any number of other questions which can be answered by large samples of asshole behavior.

Re:This is great for one thing: (1)

ottothecow (600101) | more than 4 years ago | (#31709208)

Now if only they had kept the algorithm to themselves for a little while...with the hollywood stock exchange becoming a public real money exchange, they could make a bunch of money and use that to pay for serious research!

Re:This is great for one thing: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31746364)

absolutely, that's what I tell anyone who thinks he has a way to predict the future

Psychohistory! (5, Insightful)

Rog7 (182880) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708004)

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

Re:Psychohistory! (1)

punapea (1184707) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708054)

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

10 points!!! Exactly!

Sounds like they re-discovered the Delphi method (4, Informative)

vrmlguy (120854) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708284)

Wikipedia says:

The Delphi method [wikipedia.org] is a systematic, interactive forecasting method which relies on a panel of experts.

Of course, in this case the "experts" are the movie-going public, who know more about their tastes in movies that anyone is Hollywood. The Delphi method depends on large panels, and n this case th researchers are using large panels indeed. Finally, the iteration is provided by the later tweeters reading earlier tweets before they post.

Re:Psychohistory! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31713002)

exactly! the web just makes it easier to assemble the inputs.

thanks to being an internet junkie, i've been accurately predicting world events for 10 years now.

what is the ultimate fate of the world? Famine, plagues, and disease. will there ever be peace in the middle-east? Yes, under a Chinese-Iranian dictatorship that will outlaw all religions because of religious terrorism and political activism. This world power will control the oil (spice in Dune-speak) and thereby the rest of the world.

the US will be bankrupt financially, intellectually, and morally within 20 years. the federal government will still exist on paper, but in practice will be somewhat like the Wild West or Mexico. States and City-states will hold the real power. As a consequence, we will eventually have more manufacturing plants due to cheap labor. Our GDP will rise again and within another 20 years we will re-emerge as a world power once more, just in time to join the other world powers to do battle with the previously mentioned Chinese-Iranian world-power in the Middle East.

Re:Psychohistory! (1)

PangolinThane (949459) | more than 4 years ago | (#31721278)

Delphi pools in John Brunners "the shockwave rider" predates asimov.

Re:Psychohistory! (1)

rubicelli (208603) | more than 4 years ago | (#31735558)

Delphi pools in John Brunners "the shockwave rider" predates asimov.

Only if Brunner also included a time machine.

Predictions (4, Informative)

Reason58 (775044) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708008)

The larger your sample size the more accurate your results tends to be. Fascinating.

Re:Predictions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31708060)

Isn't it less and more accurate at the same time?

Who are the "Mechanical Turks"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31708196)

Who are the people acting as the "Mechanical Turks" in this case? Are they Americans who are actually familiar with American cinema and culture? Or are they Indians, Africans and other third-worlders who have limited Internet access, but don't necessarily have access to American culture and movies?

I've always understood that Americans can't make much money at all acting as these "Mechanical Turks", but third-worlders can. What's the reality here? How much can an American make acting as a "Mechanical Turk"?

Re:Who are the "Mechanical Turks"? (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 4 years ago | (#31709042)

Generally 1-5 cents per answer. Most take no more than 2 minutes. So I really quality turker could make $1.50 or more an hour.

Nope, that's not the point (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31708344)

Putting the fact that increasing sample size does not necessarily increase the power of a predictor, you apparently didn't get the point of their method.

So method A was to simply "grep RamboIX" in these 3 million tweets. That alone already correlated to the box office outcome. However, that also catches messages like "RamboIX suxx, no way I'm going to see or even download this".

So method B was to use machine learning algorithms, combined with some initial work by human drones, to assign a degree of "positiveness" to each message about RamboIX.

While this has nothing to do with increasing sample size, it took the accuracy of the prediction to a whole new level.

I for one think this is a pretty great idea.

Re:Nope, that's not the point (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708824)

They worked out that comments, essentially, have a sign and counted them appropriately.

I'm not exactly expecting a postcard from Stockholm.

Re:Predictions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31708450)

You quote the law of large numbers [wikipedia.org] .
It only works if the average is the correct answer (among other restrictions).
That's the fascinating part.

Re:Predictions (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708860)

"The larger your sample size the more accurate your results tends to be. Fascinating."

Actually it's fascinating because the sample size was NOT in itself responsible for the accuracy of the prediction.

Note to self... (2, Interesting)

wavemancali (998656) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708044)

Tweet incorrectly about the next election to screw with the people tracking this.

Note to advertisers (1)

wealthychef (584778) | more than 4 years ago | (#31709942)

Tweet millions of times about your product to fool your investors and other interested parties.

Confirms what I've seen: The Canary Effect (1)

rjamestaylor (117847) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708064)

I watch Social Media mentions of things I care about very closely. I've explained to others how I've come to realize there is a definite "canary effect" with the mass sentiment seen via real-time opinion/view venues such as Twitter.

In fact, for items related to "down time" of sites people are routinely faster at registering their dismay at a service being unavailable than expensive site monitoring tools. This isn't exactly predicting future outcomes, but it is an "early warning" indicator that businesses should tap into.

Personally, I use simple scripts that hit the Twitter Search API and send alerts to me and others via IM, email, etc. Not as pretty as $2000/mo monitoring systems, but quite effective.

Re:Confirms what I've seen: The Canary Effect (3, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708116)

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

Re:Confirms what I've seen: The Canary Effect (1)

Deag (250823) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708364)

They are already trying their best, competitions to retweet this etc. But I think volume is their enemy here.
Even something as simple as only taking unique messages into consideration would counteract marketing tactics. I am sure there would be an arms race with regard to this.
But a question is why would marketing people bother. It is easy to see why they like their message to be a trending topic, but what is there to gain from gaming some statisticians results.

Re:Confirms what I've seen: The Canary Effect (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#31709040)

"but what is there to gain from gaming some statisticians results"

Exactly, there is nothing to be gained by trying to game this to make a false prediction, marketer's who know what they are doing will love it's for data mining potential. eg: which new movie or TV show gives the best advertising bang per buck, who should we pay to wear our shoes, etc.

Re:Confirms what I've seen: The Canary Effect (1)

Moridin42 (219670) | more than 4 years ago | (#31709436)

Uh.. foiling other people's ability to gain an advantage seems like a perfectly good reason to game a system to me.

Any system can be gamed. Any system that can provide or deny an advantage will be gamed.

Re:Confirms what I've seen: The Canary Effect (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#31715614)

The cost of faking millions of unique tweets vs the benifit of getting your competition to waste some of their marketing budget simply doesn't add up.

Re:Confirms what I've seen: The Canary Effect (1)

Moridin42 (219670) | more than 4 years ago | (#31719150)

Well.. you're obviously thinking the cost is a lot higher than I am. And it isn't wasting their marketing budget.

Leading up to a product launch, say twitter is used to predict sales. Sales to which a company is trying to match production. Poison twitter data, and you can induce a competitor to overproduce. Which leaves the product looking like it isn't selling. So not only have they spent on marketing, but they are also spending on superfluous production capacity, tying up working capital buying back inventory out of an overstuffed distro channel, and consuming opportunities they could have had to develop and market other profitable products.

Re:Confirms what I've seen: The Canary Effect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31709998)

Look good now, collect fame/contracts/money now, screw tomorrow.

Re:Confirms what I've seen: The Canary Effect (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710200)

Because marketing people know that people often go to movies and/or buy products that are seen as popular. As this technique is used to predict how popular something is going to be, marketing people will attempt to make something seem more popular than it is in order to drive additional customers to spend their money on it.

Re:Confirms what I've seen: The Canary Effect (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710220)

Correlation is not causation, except when it is.
Are people tweeting about this movie because they're excited about it or are they excited about it because people are tweeting about it? The crowds are fickle and easily swayed, especially by themselves.

Re:Confirms what I've seen: The Canary Effect (1)

bar-agent (698856) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710288)

Are people tweeting about this movie because they're excited about it or are they excited about it because people are tweeting about it? The crowds are fickle and easily swayed, especially by themselves.

I guess it doesn't really matter, because they are excited about it either way.

Re:Confirms what I've seen: The Canary Effect (4, Insightful)

Beorytis (1014777) | more than 4 years ago | (#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?

Re:Confirms what I've seen: The Canary Effect (1)

stonewallred (1465497) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708840)

No mod points, but insightful remark. They are already gaming the results. Pre-screening a movie for a few selected audiences in a few cities, with the audience being awarded seats via a contest. Give them a goody bag and do some slick crowd rousing hype before the movie to get them in a good mood. At that point unless the movie is a total bag of crap, you will have 300-500 people times 2 shows, times 10 cities to tweet and otherwise talk about how great the movie was. Roughly 8000 people who will probably tell at least 20 others. Helluva a word of mouth marketing campaign.

Re:Confirms what I've seen: The Canary Effect (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710188)

Yes, but right now, those twits are talking about the movie because they are interested in going. The companies will start paying people to create "buzz" on twitter. They will also create accounts (that are not identified as such) on twitter to promote their products.

Re:Confirms what I've seen: The Canary Effect (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31713796)

Look at Apple, if you want to see the real kings of this viral marketing techniques!

I swear that there was not a single day since months, where there wasn’t some “article” that conveniently contained some Apple product name. Even for simple things like “listening to your mp3 player” which becomes “listening to your iPod”, etc.
I know, because a spam filter in my RSS reader filters them out and shows me statistics about it.

I mean making people think the iPhone would even be relevant on the global market, let alone dominant, is an impressive feat. Making people also think that is because of its technological “superiority”, is marketing genius work!

Re:Confirms what I've seen: The Canary Effect (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710194)

There's only so much you can game. Sure, there'll be a "bump" in gaming at first once the marketeers figure it out, but as soon as the scientists notice this, we'll see bayesian type filtering looking for the drone accounts.

Sure, bots can fool some people, and there will eventually be some good ones. But it's just like spam: there are a lot of approaches to stop them at the gate, and if they get past it, most of them aren't that bright or humanly inconsistent.

I can't imagine that twitter won't have built-in anti-bot technology before long, either.

A person or group who figures out how to do one or the other (mainly the monitoring) well is going to make a lot of money. Wish I was better with programming and statistics (and had the time).

Re:Confirms what I've seen: The Canary Effect (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710266)

They would not necessarily use bots.

Re:Confirms what I've seen: The Canary Effect (1)

deetoy (1576145) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710290)

too late.

In other words... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:In other words... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31709002)

I believe the outcome is interesting because marketing focuses its strategies on massive targets to boost the revenue.

Now, what's the approach to take in this place:
Should marketing strategies should follow their success by these type of analysis?
Should they change their focus to those good products that don't receive attention? or just keep spreading the word about the already popular ones? (If the marketing job is already done, why not let the social networking do my job)

This clearly has serious implications in culture, it's funny to see that in many video stores in the US, there are no "foreign drama movies". They are either "Drama" or "Foreign" (or pick the gender of your preference), to me that's a dramatic impact on the culture that end up watching "over-marketed" remakes such as "The Departed" and "Vanilla Sky", instead of the original movies, generating more revenue for the Hollywood studios.

Maybe a good prediction for public opinion (2, Interesting)

dreadlord76 (562584) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708082)

A candidate makes a speech, and then the workers scrape SN data to see the response, so the candidate can further tailor the message for the next speech. However, do we really want to always be driven by public opinion?

Re:Maybe a good prediction for public opinion (4, Informative)

BarryJacobsen (526926) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708296)

However, do we really want to always be driven by public opinion?

I wasn't sure - so I checked twitter and it turns out that we do.

Is it the content or the buzz? (2, Interesting)

dstates (629350) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708096)

The fact that the tweets predict the sales in advance of the movies release or people actually seeing the movie raises an interesting question. Is it the content of the movie or the "buzz" that really matters?

Re:Is it the content or the buzz? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708278)

The buzz is important, but it is fickle, a bad movie might launch with high expectations, but people will quickly figure it out.

Re:Is it the content or the buzz? (1)

fulldecent (598482) | more than 4 years ago | (#31709726)

yeah... but people went to see Avatar based on buzz, even though the movie thoroughly, totally, absolutely, entirely, wholly, fully, quite, altogether, one hundred percent, downright, outright, in all respects, unconditionally, perfectly, really, to the hilt, to the core, utterly, positively, indisputably, indubitably, beer, unquestionably, beyond any doubt, beyond any question, incontrovertibly, incontestable, irrefutable, unassailably; certainly, surely, definitely, positively, conclusively, plainly, obviously, unmistakably, self-evidently, patently, emphatically, categorically, unequivocally sucked.

Psychohistory? (2, Insightful)

drunken_boxer777 (985820) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708114)

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

Hari Seldon would be proud.

Panopoly... (1)

genghisjahn (1344927) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708128)

...I've always like that word. I so rarely have a chance to use it in a sentence.

Re:Panopoly... (1)

genghisjahn (1344927) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708156)

And I misspelled it...ruining my Kill Bill reference.

-1 Fail (1)

glodime (1015179) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708280)

I have have mod points but no way to mark this -1 Fail.

Re:-1 Fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31708930)

I have have mod points but no way to mark this -1 Fail.

Did you mean the parent post or your own?

Here comes the astroturf (1)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708160)

The true demise of twitter will be / is when the PR firms that try to take advantage of this flood it with spam, or worse yet, pay people to hype their junk.

Onwards to the next social networking platform!!! I want something with pub/private encryption, non-repudiation, recall, key escrow, supports live pictures, movies, sound, and sound effects, multi-threaded conversations, geolocation, rankings, tagging, filtering, and stuff (yes, I know I contradicted myself a few times, laugh)

Re:Here comes the astroturf (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708366)

Sounds like Google Wave to me! A couple of plugins and you're sorted.

Re:Here comes the astroturf (2, Informative)

Dynedain (141758) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708484)

The true demise of twitter will be / is when the PR firms that try to take advantage of this flood it with spam, or worse yet, pay people to hype their junk.

When it happens??? It's been happening from day 1. They're just so good at it that you haven't noticed.

Re:Here comes the astroturf (1)

stonewallred (1465497) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708920)

I use FB under a false name. Privacy settings at the highest and auto-block all apps. And I only use it to keep in contact with friends. You know, people who I am in contact with regularly, know their birthdays, am concerned at some level about their well-being and happiness,have their email nd phone numbers in my phone and with the exception of three people, I know where they all live specifically. (2 because they have moved to other states and I have not been to their new homes, and one because she is a girl who goes to my college with who I have never spoken to in person, or on the phone, but we have been chatting and talking via text and FB for over three years now lol.)

Re:Here comes the astroturf (1)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 4 years ago | (#31709404)

Congratulations?

Summary Mistake.. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

So, let me get this straight... (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708186)

So let me get this straight. A research institution came to the conclusion that popular things tended to earn a lot of money, while unpopular things tended to tank?

Holy Crap stop the presses! We just invented the Oracle of Delphi! It's all so clear now. The Greeks weren't talking to the gods, but they were talking to a complicated trend analysis computer that tapped into their far reaching social networks!

=P

Nah, in all seriousness though, it's a pretty interesting read.

Re:So, let me get this straight... (1)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708234)

So let me get this straight. A research institution came to the conclusion that popular things tended to earn a lot of money, while unpopular things tended to tank?

Holy Crap stop the presses! We just invented the Oracle of Delphi! It's all so clear now.

Nah, it's more of the Councilor Troi "sensing the obvious and predicting the present" sort of thing. =)

Re:So, let me get this straight... (1)

Ironica (124657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31710426)

So let me get this straight. A research institution came to the conclusion that popular things tended to earn a lot of money, while unpopular things tended to tank?

No... a research institution found a way to quickly quantify popularity without expensive market research and focus groups. *That* is the innovation here.

Better enjoy it while is lasts. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31708192)

This might work right now but start using it for anything useful and it will get spammed relentlessly.

Google's organic search results have the same problem. So many SEO people and companies are manipulating the results that most searches are now pointless.

Those terms should not be paired. (1)

Adaeniel (1315637) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708208)

I don't think that the terms social media and collective wisdom can be appropriately used together in a sentence. Unless you are describing the lack of wisdom thereof.

Keep Joss Going (1)

forceofyoda (855030) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708272)

Ok guys. So when the next Joss Whedon series comes out, everyone tweet about how great it is.

Re:Keep Joss Going (0, Flamebait)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708404)

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.

Re:Keep Joss Going (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

effect of viral marketing (1)

bomcha (1672066) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708308)

seems more like viral marketing effect felt on twitter...

Watch out Wall St (1)

sir_eccles (1235902) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708314)

I can see it already. Someone in Wall St is look at this thinking they can automate their buying and selling of stocks and beat the market, then they'll say they aren't making enough so they'll create a derivatives market in social media futures, then they'll fiddle things slightly to improve it, then when the bubble bursts (again) we'll look back at this and wonder why it happens again and again.

Re:Watch out Wall St (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708460)

Uhm, CNN is about the best indicator of the stock market you can get. Watch CNN long enough and you can predict the markets in general trends, probably rarely will you get news soon enough to make money on any single companies stock.

Broadcast news controls people FAR more than they realize. The difference is, broadcast news sets the tone and people then act on it. Social media just makes those actions apparent in a new place. They were always apparent if you bothered to look.

Had the broadcast news channels not spent a year telling everyone how bad the economy was it wouldn't be bad. It really isn't bad if you have any sense of perspective at all. If you do think its bad I suggest you pick up a history book and start reading. Except for the elderly, most people today have no idea what 'bad' is. To them 'bad' is standing in the unemployment line, or rather, calling it in, as is done most places today.

Not if the mpaa has any say (1)

tqft (619476) | more than 4 years ago | (#31709962)

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601204&sid=aBtiaTy.Q1vw [bloomberg.com]
"The Motion Picture Association of America asked regulators to reject proposals from two planned exchanges that would allow investors to trade in movie futures.

Approving movie futures contracts would be the "economic equivalent of legalized gambling," MPAA interim Chief Executive Officer Bob Pisano said in a letter March 23 to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

The Cantor Futures Exchange, a unit of Cantor Fitzgerald LP, and Trend Exchange, backed by Veriana Networks LLC, are seeking approval to create markets that would permit investors to trade on futures based on box-office receipts before a film is released. Cantor would be open to individual and institutional investors while Trend Exchange would be limited to institutions.
"
""The reputation and integrity of our industry could be tarnished by allowing trading in the movie futures contracts," Pisano said in the letter."

Can't have Hollywood movies integrity compromised can we?

Collective wisdom? (3, Funny)

arkham6 (24514) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708356)

Collective wisdom? In today's popular culture? Surely there must be a better term than that.

No kidding (3, Insightful)

pavon (30274) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

No shit sherlock (2, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Important (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31708432)

I'm glad they tested this on something important like movie revenues.

Would be a shame to waste power like this on something like election outcomes.

I think I can simplify this even more (3, Insightful)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 4 years ago | (#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:I think I can simplify this even more (1)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708728)

Hollywood doesn't push movies that actually suck. The plots may be generic, and made for mass appeal, but the truly awful releases are not previewed or advertised beyond what it takes to satisfy the egos that made the trash in the first place.

Transformers (I didn't see the second one) was a steaming pile of shit in terms of art, but it was an okay movie. Explosions. Sweaty young women. One dimensional characters. Sounds a lot like the James Bond flicks from the 60s, doesn't it?

Re:I think I can simplify this even more (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31709324)

Counterexample: "The master of disguise"

Re:I think I can simplify this even more (1)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708772)

While the marketing-and-opening-screens approximation works great for "Spiderman vs. Shrek III" it doesn't seem to work anywhere nearly as well with movies like The Blair Witch Project. Those quirky breakout movies have a vastly higher profit margin so there's a very good reason to try to predict those and launch last-minute advertising campaigns.

Re:I think I can simplify this even more (1)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 4 years ago | (#31711726)

Has it shown a propensity to predict those? I would suggest their system only measures public awareness which is driven by marketing. It won't find "There's Something About Mary" which took 9 weeks to reach #1 and made 60% as much in its 8th week as in its first.

http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=weekend&id=somethingaboutmary.htm [boxofficemojo.com]

Compare that to "The Hangover", an excellent movie in the same category. A movie anyone in Hollywood would be glad to have made. It made 13% as much in its 8th week as its first.

Fallibility? (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708606)

How resistant would this be to Ford Edsel-like hype? Would we get another one of these [wikipedia.org] ?

Collective wisdom? (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708750)

These days I would consider that an oxymoron..

This is EASY! (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708754)

Here's a prediction based upon social networks:

People will become increasingly self-absorbed and focused on triviality and consumption.

During this Holy Week, I think we should all remember that when you post on Facebook or Twitter, it makes Jesus cry.

And it makes Buddha do the "finger down your throat" sign for puking.

Profit and Political Motives Only (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 4 years ago | (#31708872)

But predicting box office receipts may be only the beginning. 'This method can be extended to a large panoply of topics, 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.'

Hey, how about using this for something that's actually useful, like predicting and preventing attempts at suicide?

Polling! (2, Insightful)

brit74 (831798) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Polling! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710236)

Then you get into issues of people willing to participate in polls at all. You never will get everyone's opinion. It's not possible. Even the new idea only works on people who use Twitter. So they have to be into social networking. My grandmother certainly isn't.

At best, this means they can predict certain types of things that fit the demographic of twitter users. My grandmother doesn't see new movies vary much either. However, she does vote. I don't think this is the end all.

It beats online polls! (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 4 years ago | (#31714762)

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.

Judge for yourself, here's what they say:

Surprisingly, we discovered that the chatter of a community can indeed be used to make quantitative predictions that outperform those of artificial markets. These information markets generally involve the trading of state-contingent securities, and if large enough and properly designed, they are usually more accurate than other techniques for extracting diffuse information, such as surveys and opinions polls.

So twitter-reading beats markets which beats polls.

Also, what do you mean by "scientifically"? If you mean "like scientists", could you please explain to me what the important properties of what scientists do are?

Re:Polling! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31721774)

It's not like doing a poll at all because you aren't asking any questions, you're just listening to what people are already saying.

It only works while it's a secret stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31710448)

if you tell everyone that it works then they all start anticipating the outcome and looking for ways to take advantage from it... and that changes the outcome.

Should've kept it secret and made your fortune. Now everyone and their dog knows about it, just watch how quickly those graphs begin to degade.

I have a sad (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#31712604)

It doesn't surprise me that a few HP geeks are doing arithmetic analysis of what's supposed to be art. No doubt this model will be used to bang out a bunch of crap optimized for it, which will then disprove the model. It would not surprise me if a niche industry in punitry alts didn't spring up so that people could blog every possible permutation of like/dislike early and so market the winning alts as "market drivers" that could be marketed to studios. Why not? We're already doing that here on slashdot and other tech sites.

These guys should get laid. Then maybe they'd put down the slide rule and enjoy the movie.

Subject vs. Object (1)

BrazilianLothario (1141579) | more than 4 years ago | (#31715014)

POst-quark APril 1 charm Agreeably hard to distinguish true content from false on this year's Topeka date. Twitterers driving Hollywoood seems well pitched close enough to the believability threshold to cause real doubt. Every day I read Slashdot expecting to be on the boundary between the beliebavle and the possible but not yet practical. As someone who prefers the bright haze of a documentary to the potential fuzz of fiction I wonder is the appeal of Slashdot: the be the source in reality for the sciFi desire in our day-job bound reality-needing souls? I certainly open it looking for that "could it be?" buzz. PS. Talking virtual reality, has anyone detected the potential typo of hadron for hard-on?

The Large Hard-on Collider (1)

BrazilianLothario (1141579) | more than 4 years ago | (#31715174)

--- The Battle of the Titans has been established in a town of the (middle West?) famed for drag racing, bike jumps across gulches and similar macho standoffs. Turned-on-technologists from all States convene for the Battle of the Schwarz. (Der Schwarzbattelgotterdammerunggesellschaft) Two champions, representing their respective armies, face off on the Plain. Passions rise. Injuries are attempted. Few occur. (Spirit willing, but..) Finally tempers abate and the parties go home, deflated but having had their Day On the Plains, confronting the greatest of their generation.
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