Twitter and the Presidential Debates: community intelligence

As you can see by the sidebar of this blog, I rather enjoy the twitter experience.  Last night, while chatting/reading regarding the current market issues there was a tweet that jumped off the page:

manima Current TV has partnered @Twitter for the election debates. They debate, you tweet, we broadcast.

NOTE:  I’ve updated the initial tweet to a more attractive link.

If you click on the link, you will see a promotional spot for a partnership between current_ and twitter to live broadcast the presidential debates overlayed by twitter comments from users who tag their tweet with the #current tag during the debate.

As I said last night, this is one of those things that is equal parts genius and insane.  I love it.

In general, it is based upon the principle of community intelligence.  Following the Finovate conference, I posted about the focus on community intelligence (in the forms of stock advice, lending, etc) and the impact that it was having on the technology sector as it relates to finance.

Quite possibly one of the earliest studies into collective intelligence was performed by Francis Galton.  I encourage you to take a bit of time and read the section of his wikipedia biography that discusses Statistics, standard deviation, regression and correlationTo quote from the article:

In 1906 Galton visited a livestock fair and stumbled upon an intriguing contest. An ox was on display, and the villagers were invited to guess the animal’s weight after it was slaughtered and dressed. Nearly 800 gave it a go and, not surprisingly, not one hit the exact mark: 1,198 pounds. Astonishingly, however, the average of those 800 guesses came close — very close indeed. It was 1,197 pounds.

While an inexact science, the concept of leveraging the community to capture a wide-range of thoughts and inputs is extremely interesting.  Of course, the “many” can frequently be less precise than the few…but the breadth of participation may (in some cases) make up for this inherent deficit.

In the case of the presidential debates, I’m intrigued to see the general consensus provided by the twitter community* at the time.  It will either be incredibly impressive or completely useless but it will be interesting either way.

Does this apply directly to commerce?  No.  But the concept of the “voice of the many” is something that must be captured.  Or, if not captured, clearly recognized. 

What’s your perspective? Agree? Disagree? Anything to add? Critiques? The comment form is below. . .

*It would be even more interesting to have demographic information** of the twitter community involvement to do some simple analysis

**this information is not available

September 16, 2008

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