News organizations are crunching social media data in creative new ways as they fire up new websites and apps for 2012 election coverage.
The latest to debut is The Washington Post’s @MentionMachine, a web app launched Tuesday that monitors Twitter and news media for political candidate mentions, “revealing trends and spikes that show where the conversation is and why.”
The @MentionMachine is also integrated in a toolbar at the bottom of any WashingtonPost.com campaign story. For future updates the Post says it is considering “many ideas — ranging from integrating sentiment analysis, sourcing from more social media streams, creating public widgets to pulling paid search data.”
That first idea, sentiment analysis, is going to be important. It’s the difference between data (how many mentions for each candidate) and intelligence (what those mentions say about the candidates). Without that, it hovers as less than an analytical tool but more than a gimmick.
Speaking of gimmicks, ABC News recently released a stock-market style ticker that tracks the day-to-day popularity of candidates based on an opaque blend of punditry and social media sentiment. It’s a clever idea, but the lack of transparency about what drives it makes it of little serious use.… Read more