You can play with Twitter data all day and come up with all sorts of interesting conclusions. As a social scientist, it is Pandora’s box. Free research to an extent you couldn’t even dream about a decade ago. But of course it is just Twitter. Mainly U.S. and well….just Twitter.
Compare that to the amount of data Google has in order to detect trends. Gazillions of web searches. Gmail. Google Maps. And anything going on within at least half the smart phones in the world. That’s more like it! Other’s try and guess who your friends are, hell, Google knows if they are in your phone list and if you emailed them today. You don’t need a particularly smart algorythm to figure out what stock to buy, which songs are on the rise, or which companies are doing a good job. Google kindly gives us back some information on trends. It is badly crippled of course, randomized or normalized or generally scrutinized to make sure it isn’t commercially usable . And it is not quite real time of course. More like a promotional vehicle.
Google knows what you are thinking. Not because of some “1984” like surveillance scheme but because that amount and variety of data they have can bring pretty accurate results. We know that they sell this know how, but it isn’t an official product. Which I guess makes it illegal. Maybe Edward Snowden will illuminate us on this topic, though it is secondary.
And where is Apple? Maybe the only other company with a pretty complete understanding of the behaviour of a big chunk of people. They don’t even give us any data. They announce no initiative to use this data to make better products for their customers. They just sit on the lid, like they sit on their cash pile.
With the amount of data flying around the internet, many other companies will come up with pretty accurate correllations between indicators sooner or later though. It won’t be as complete as Google and it won’t be as tidy as Apple’s data.
But it will work.