Program invented to track Twitter sentiment
Inventors of a program which tracks public opinion on Twitter say it may have applications for Australian politics and the environment.
The Australian Associated Press (AAP) reports that Silicon Graphics International (SGI) used what's referred to as 'heat maps' to track voter sentiment for the US election in November and the Hurricane Sandy disaster in October.
During the campaign, the map showed when people were talking about the president and his Republican rival, where they were posting from and whether the post was positive or negative.
The natural disaster that hit the east coast was tracked on Twitter as people posted their experiences, with the map also identifying the positivity of west coast posts when they found out their relatives were safe.
SGI's Franz Aman said this technology allowed for an almost social media marketing approach by allowing businesses to track consumer opinions.
Politics could also take advantage of new invention, as it will be able to track voter opinion regarding any issue.
Mr Aman told the AAP: "We've certainly seen in the US and other parts of the world, participation (with politics) is happening online now.
"The ability to motivate people on a grand scale and in real-time understand what's going on is pretty amazing."
He added that president Obama was able to utilise Twitter in the US by asking thousands of people to contribute small amounts to his re-election campaign.
Social media is a medium that is fast becoming the go-to place for analysts to examine what the public feel about a particular issue – it's a medium which doesn't cost anything to inspect.
The Australian government's top research centre, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is currently trialling two programs based on the principle of utilising social media.
One is known as ESA and is being used to help emergency services monitor natural disasters.
The second is known as Vizie and is looking at general sentiment of Twitter users – whether positive or negative. This could be used by politicians and businesses looking for customer feedback down the line.