Gefühle im Netz — der nächste Schritt der Suchmaschinen

Ein NYTimes-Technology Artikel beschäftigt sich mit dem nächsten anstehenden Durchbruch in der Internet-Suchtechnik: „Sentiment Analysis“, dem Versuch, im Internet ausgedrückte Gefühle statistisch verwertbar zu machen. Die Anwendung ist natürlich zunächst für Unternehmen interessant (und auch ein wenig erschreckend), am Ende aber ein weiterer Schritt für den Konstruktivismus. Die zentralen Punkte:

The rise of blogs and social networks has fueled a bull market in personal opinion: reviews, ratings, recommendations and other forms of online expression. For computer scientists, this fast-growing mountain of data is opening a tantalizing window onto the collective consciousness of Internet users.

An emerging field known as sentiment analysis is taking shape around one of the computer world’s unexplored frontiers: translating the vagaries of human emotion into hard data.

This is more than just an interesting programming exercise. For many businesses, online opinion has turned into a kind of virtual currency that can make or break a product in the marketplace.

Yet many companies struggle to make sense of the caterwaul of complaints and compliments that now swirl around their products online. As sentiment analysis tools begin to take shape, they could not only help businesses improve their bottom lines, but also eventually transform the experience of searching for information online.

Ein Anwendungsbeispiel:

In early May, the ticket marketplace StubHub used Scout Labs’ monitoring tool to identify a sudden surge of negative blog sentiment after rain delayed a Yankees-Red Sox game.

Stadium officials mistakenly told hundreds of fans that the game had been canceled, and StubHub denied fans’ requests for refunds, on the grounds that the game had actually been played. But after spotting trouble brewing online, the company offered discounts and credits to the affected fans. It is now re-evaluating its bad weather policy.

“This is a canary in a coal mine for us,” said John Whelan, StubHub’s director of customer service.

Und hier eine Ahnung, welche Macht zur Produkt– und Imagegestaltung das den Unternehmen gibt — am besten vor dem Hintergrund meiner Ausführungen zur problematischen Rolle von Information in der modernen Marktwirtschaft zu lesen:

Using Newssift, a search for Wal-Mart reveals that recent sentiment about the company is running positive by a ratio of slightly better than two to one. When that search is refined with the suggested term “Labor Force and Unions,” however, the ratio of positive to negative sentiments drops closer to one to one.

Such tools could help companies pinpoint the effect of specific issues on customer perceptions, helping them respond with appropriate marketing and public relations strategies.

Und zur Aufheiterung ein kleiner Blick in die konstruktivistische Zukunft:

Ms. Pang envisions a search engine that fine-tunes results for users based on sentiment. For example, it might influence the ordering of search results for certain kinds of queries like “best hotel in San Antonio.”

As search engines begin to incorporate more and more opinion data into their results, the distinction between fact and opinion may start blurring to the point where, as David Byrne once put it, “facts all come with points of view.”

Datum: Montag, 24. August 2009 22:17
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