Computational Social Science, Big Data, and its Commercial Applications

There is a new scientific discpline emerging out of the rich data produced by social media applications. It goes by the name of computational social science and is nicely described in this article written by Jim Giles, published in the journal Nature (full reference below). Here is a short quote from the article:

“It’s been really transformative,” says Michael Macy, a social scientist at Cornell and one of 15 co-authors of a 2009 manifesto seeking to raise the profile of the new discipline. “We were limited before to surveys, which are retrospective, and lab experiments, which are almost always done on small numbers of college sophomores.” Now, he says, the digital data-streams promise a portrait of individual and group behaviour at unprecedented scales and levels of detail.

This new scientific discipline has significant business implications as well. You can now find hundreds of commercial products on the market trying to leverage so called Big Data (here is a recent blog post by the Harvard Business Review on mining big customer data). One niche in this market is the measurement of online influence, which has been summarized in an article by the New York Times as follows:

Companies with names like Klout, PeerIndex and Twitter Grader are in the process of scoring millions, eventually billions, of people on their level of influence — or in the lingo, rating “influencers.” Yet the companies are not simply looking at the number of followers or friends you’ve amassed. Rather, they are beginning to measure influence in more nuanced ways, and posting their judgments — in the form of a score — online.

Klout seems to be the market leader in this niche. Here is some press coverage on how Klout works from the wired magazine and The Economist. Very recently, William Ward, Social Media Professor of Syracruse University, pointed my to an interesting video interview by Brian Solis with Klout’s CEO, Joe Fernandez. I have embedded the interview below.

via dr4ward.com

References:

Giles, J. (2012). Computational Social Science: Making the Links. Nature, 488(7412), 448–450. doi:10.1038/488448a

On Personal Effectiveness: Shareaholic

via shareaholic.com

Regardless of whether I am at work or at home, I like to share the information that I come across every day. In order to do so, I have installed a variety of applications for the different types of communication channels I am using. I recently stumbled across a great tool that lets me share all my links in a very convenient way. It is called Shareaholic and provides access to many of the services I use every day, such as Twitter, Facebook, Posterous, Google Reader, Delicious and so on. While I was updating to the newest version the other day, I discovered a nice little video which I would like to share with you. Have a look and check out if this is something you would like to use as well.

 

Incentives for the Use of Social Software

In another case study presented in his book, Niall introduces Microsoft’s Academy Mobile, an online learning program that allows people to share audio and video files (podcasts). Here is a small list of incentives Microsoft used to engage its employees.

  1. Rewards for top contributors
  2. Training sessions on ‘How to create podcasts’
  3. Provision of studio facility & technical equipment to record and play podcasts

Here’s the link to a blog post by Jon Ingham, a consultant and researcher on strategic human capital management, who is similarly positive about this implementation story.

However, the question of how to set the right incentives is a tricky one. Please find below a video by David Gurteen, a knowledge management consultant. He is an adversary of incentives as they distort the relation between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

How would you encourage people to use a new system? How do you fuel enthusiasm about innovations within your organization? Please do share your stories.

When Real-Time Isn’t Fast Enough by @jowyang


via ustream.tv

This is a video of Jeremiah Owyang, who is a Partner at the Altimeter Group, a strategy consulting firm. The other day he gave a presentation at LeWeb, Europe’s largest internet conference. The points that he makes are quite interesting. Below you can find a brief summary of my notes.

1) Start listening now, and quickly offer social personalization features

  • Include contextual information based on social profiles
  • Allow access to services such as FB connect, analyze behavior, and customize the product offers accordingly

2) Develop an unpaid army of advocates who can respond when you’re not there

  • Work with customers and evangelists and use them as an unpaid R&D team
  • Give them recognition and access to exclusive information, not cash

3) Start to invest in systems –like social CRM– that can support the overall strategy

  • Integrative strategy counts; all customer data needs to be stored in one location
  • Future: match Twitter and other accounts with trad. CRM systems and detect customer problems as they occur

If you would like to have a look at the entire presentation, check Jeremiah’s blog.

Social Media Revolution by @equalman


via youtube.com

Although I am sure many of you have seen this video before, I would still like to include it. I think it makes a good point: social media is here to stay. It represents a fundamental shift in the way we communicate. It changes how companies do business. I will talk more about this in the sections on ‘Knowledge Management, Collaboration and Learning’ and ‘The Future of Work’.