Sunday, April 11, 2010

Twitter as Ghetto Prediction Engine

Twitter predicts future box office

A study by researchers from HP's Social Computing Lab shows that Twitter does very well in predicting the box office revenue for movies.

[Researchers] found that using only the rate at which movies are mentioned could successfully predict future revenues. But when the sentiment of the tweet was factored in (how favorable it was toward the new movie), the prediction was even more exact.

But as someone noted in the comments:

Works fine until people realize it works, then they start gaming it, and it stops working.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

On Micro Donations

What if there were a way to donate small amounts of money almost effortlessly and practically without overhead charges? Then if you saw something inspirational that someone was doing, you might send your thanks/support in the way of, say, 30 cents. And if 10,000 people did the same, suddenly this person would be $3,000 richer and would have gained something for their effort. Thus as a society we would reward things instantly, directly and without any foreseeable detriment. (This fits into the idea that we'll try to rebuild the god that we've essentially destroyed, through an actual mediated social controller.) Think about it: just in the united states alone we've got at least 100 million people for whom a single dollar a month doesn't really matter. If that money became malleable, no one would really be put out and we would have created another outlet for artistic and creative reward- especially important today while these practices are being phased out of the economy by piracy. There could be something like a "five cent club", meaning people would commit to a donation of 5 cents every month to a certain cause, project, or person. The donor wouldn't even notice, but if you somehow managed to get 100,000 five cent members, you would make $60,000 a year. That's pretty cool to think about. There would have to be some sort of regulation mediated through social networking mixed with Paypal, wherein you could only get this "five cent member" icon put on your profile if you were really donating the money. It would be another way of showing your support and would be encouraged through peer pressure. There wouldn't even really be an excuse to stop because it's such a small amount of money. That's a strange thought because this would also make donation into a powerful political tool. For instance, if an artist or organization did something that many of its monthly micro-donors disapproved of, they would feel the effects as people withdrew their membership, which is the beauty of a regularly spaced interval contributions: they have instant influence through strength in numbers. Cash democracy on every level of society.
Also, there's the whole exchange rate issue. We already see this when people end up sympathizing with the 419 scammers that are cheating them (my mother's friend now regularly sends money and gifts to a guy in India who straight up told her the truth after she called him out on being a scammer) One hundred dollars in India is a big sum of money. $250 can pay for a surgery to fix a child's cleft lip. Perhaps if people could literally see their money heading to a specific kid who they could watch via Facebook for their entire life (and talk to with new translation software) they would be less inclined to selfishly spend $3,000 to pay for a surgery to help their objectively worthless dog live for another two years. You would start to have real worldwide social priorities take precedent over daily and local bullshit. Of course this might make as many problems as it would solve. Capitalism always finds a way of fucking even the best laid systems. You would have people donating to terrorist organizations disguised as relief spending and all sorts of hoax and counter hoaxes. Either way though, you can see the seeds of this all over the place right now. Insect theory: Practically nothing times a million is suddenly quite a lot.


This is the closest to what I'm talking about: different cities and organizations teamed up over twitter to raise money for sustainable clean drinking water projects in developing nations like India and Ethiopia. The result was 250K which is being used to build systems to provide sanitary water to ~17,000 people who previously had none.

Thus we have X number of people (lets call it 60,000 at $4 on average) donating an extremely small portion of their expendable income in exchange for roughly 17,000 people gaining access to the most basic necessity for life. Thus there is a large net gain in the total amount of happiness in the universe:

[60k * (amount of happiness lost over losing $4) * (-1)] + [60k * (amount of happiness gained over sense of having done good in the world)] + [17k * (amount of happiness gained from not dying)] = GUSH (Global Unified Shift in Happiness)

PayPal 2.0 "Bumps" Money Between iPhones

iPhone/iPod touch: You're settling up a restaurant tab for three. One eater has no cash, the other only twenty-dollar bills, and you're left wondering. If at least two of you have iPhones, PayPal 2.0 lets you "bump" the balance between phones.