17 November 2008

Mining the Mindless Wisdom of Crowds

First it was Google:

Google search isn't just about looking up football scores from last weekend or finding a great hotel for your next vacation. It can also be used for the public good. Yesterday, we announced Google Flu Trends, which uses aggregated search data in an effort to confront the challenge of influenza outbreaks.

By taking Google Trends — where you can see snapshots of what's on the public's collective mind — and applying the tool to a public health problem, our engineers found that there was a correlation between flu-related queries and the actual flu. They created a model for near real-time estimates about outbreaks, in the hopes that both health care professionals and the general public would use this tool to better prepare for flu season.

Even directory enquiries is at it:

Number request figures from the country's biggest directory service provider paint a gloomy portrait of Britain that reveals requests for bailiffs, credit card companies and house clearance services rising while calls for estate agents, surveyors and removals are falling.


The figures, based on about 130m calls a year to 118118, compare requests for numbers from January to June 2007 to the same period in 2008 with some surprising variations. "When we saw these figures we couldn't quite believe the huge difference in call requests between last year and this," said William Ostrom, spokesman for the company.

But for me, one of the best ways of mining the blind but revealing moves of the masses is through Wikirage:

This site lists the pages in Wikipedia which are receiving the most edits per unique editor over various periods of time. Popular people in the news, the latest fads, and the hottest video games can be quickly identified by monitoring this social phenomenon.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nothing headed about toenails, p