To capture the chatter, Nielsen BuzzMetrics, a giant in the industry, uses software that collects hundreds of thousands of comments a day. The technology can scan for specific companies, products, brands, people -- anything searchable. It can slice data into a range of categories to quantify the number of times a subject was discussed online, the individuals who mentioned it and the communities where it appeared.Examples of knowledge acquired by this amazing new technology? People are going to be wanting more snacks in the future, and they prefer "American Idol" to the Olympics.
Or do you find this technology ominous?
Talk Left speculates that the government is using these techniques too. Is that bad? Is ascertaining the drift of the on-line conversation be any more threatening than than taking political polls? This process of aggregating large numbers of statements to read the general opinion is quite different from monitoring an individual. But in any case, the individuals generating the statements are writing in a completely open public space. We can't say the government is invading our privacy when we are inviting the entire world to read us. Yet maybe something terrible is happening, and we blithe bloggers will live to regret it.