Forecasts about social and economic trends could be generated through the analysis of blogs and tweets, building on earlier research by Google and others to mine the frequency of specific search terms to outline purchasing patterns. With blogs and tweets added to the equation, trends other than buying behavior—such as political sentiment and stock market patterns—could possibly be predicted.
For instance, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign were able to forecast stock market behavior by using more than 20 million blog posts to build an "Anxiety Index" that measures the frequency with which a range of words associated with apprehension, such as "nervous," show up in the posts. The appearance of these terms correlated with lower stock prices. Tools that quantify the national mood could prove useful to stock traders, who will be more likely to refrain from taking risks if they know consumers are fraught with pessimism, for example.
Researchers say that Web data analysis methods could be used to make even more accurate predictions as researchers devise more refined techniques for measuring the emotional content of blogs and tweets.
From New Scientist
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