A new tool developed by IBM is tapping into the deep, mostly uptapped well of public sentiment that is Twitter. Along with students at the Annenberg Innovation Lab at the University of Southern California, researchers are finding a way to use the more than 200 million daily tweets and turn them into a Social Sentiment Index. After crunching the numbers, public opinion about sports players or the Academy Awards are reduced to what IBM dubbed a “T-score.”
Similar to the Twitter Political Index, IBM's software creates real-time snapshots of public opinion on various topics. According to IBM, the analytics software can distinguish between irony and sincerity, and ignore neutral tweets or other background noise to get an honest representation of public opinion.
"The work we are doing with IBM enables our students a unique opportunity to gain valuable knowledge in the use of advanced analytics technologies," said Professor Jonathan Taplin, director of the Annenberg Innovation Lab, "and apply it to real-world settings to understand how this new information can benefit a variety of industries."
In one example provided by IBM, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning received a 66 percent positive sentiment rating prior to Super Bowl XLVI, while New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady received a 61 percent positive sentiment rating. (Manning ended up leading the Giants to victory 21-17.)