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Annenberg Innovation Lab: Partnering to understand the impact of social data

When looking for good partners to explore emerging technologies with, jStart has a set of criteria to see if the client is a good fit: is their challenge in an interesting problem domain? Is the client comfortable thinking “outside of the box”? Does the client have interesting ideas on how technology might be utilized to meet their needs? Could the client bring expertise that jStart lacked? A client that met all of those requirements is the Annenberg Innovation Lab (AIL)—part of the University of Southern California.

Initially, jStart and AIL collaborated on exploring how data analytics (including the use of BigSheets and IBM Content Analytics) might be used to understand sentiment as surfaced in social media sites—in this case Twitter, by treating Twitter as a communications vehicle. Could the data, AIL wondered, be used to possibly predict how up-coming movies might do at the box office-—before they were released? Working with AIL, jStart helped the lab develop its Film Forecaster-—and accurately predicted the box office potential of a number of summer blockbusters in 2011, including X-Men: First Class, and The Hangover 2.

“With our partnership with jStart and IBM, we were able to use technology to quickly analyze social media data, and in turn, understand how social sentiment was influencing perceptions.”

Prof. Jonathan Taplin
Director, USC Annenberg Innovation Lab

Even while AIL and jStart were partnering on that project, a graduate student from the lab decided to apply the IBM technology to answer another question: could the ebb and flow of social sentiment be used to understand what was occurring during the Arab Spring—especially as that movement evolved? The student was able to scan a variety of both Arabic and English sources of information and even was able to compare and contrast sentiment in English based countries to Middle Eastern nations. The most impressive part of what the graduate student was able to accomplish? She configured the system and conducted the analysis in a single night. And that was just the beginning: two innovative uses of IBM data analytics, combined with AIL’s expertise in journalism, hinted at the breadth of possibilities in understanding the impact of social data by using a combination of jStart’s and AIL’s expertise with current IBM technologies.

Learning more about the Annenberg Innovation Lab @USC

The USC Annenberg Innovation Lab focuses on media, culture, and society as the basis for innova-tion at the intersection of art, science, design, and engineering. At the Lab, experts from academia, private and public sector firms, and not-for-profit organizations come together to define, create and disperse culturally relevant applications, platforms, media genres, and practices. The Lab's mission is to be a leading innovator and advisor on transfor-mational changes happening in our participatory cultures.

You can learn more about the Annenberg Innovation Lab by visiting their website at: www.annenberglab.com

AIL: working w/jStart

Success: Insights into social data as applied to social settings

What Professor Jonathan Taplin, Director of AIL, and his team revealed is that social data analytics could be applied to almost any social event: from sporting events including the NFL’s Super Bowl and Major League Baseball’s World Series, to entertainment events like The Oscars, as well as political events like the US Republican Debates; social data analytics could be used to help understand what was driving the conver-sation—and the public perception—of these events...and how that perception could actually be actionable by interested parties.

Working together: what we learned

As with any successful partnership, jStart continues to learn from its collaboration with AIL. Already the team has been able to test some of it's new technologies in innovative and creative ways, while AIL was able to leverage these technologies to see what was possible today—and what still needed work. Interestingly, it has also lead to concrete business value: due to media coverage of Prof. Taplin’s creative applications of sophisticated data analytics technologies, companies have been asking how this technology might help them understand, and proactively engage social media. "With our partnership with jStart and IBM, we were able to use technology to quickly analyze social media data, and in turn, understand how social sentiment was influencing perceptions,” Prof. Taplin explained. This collaborative effort illustrates yet another reason why jStart values its relationships with its partners: the insights they provide often influence our understand-ing of how emerging technologies can be applied in real-world scenarios—to generate real-world value.

Interested? Let us know how we can help you.

If you would like to know how jStart can help jump start your big data and social analytics efforts, let us know. By starting small and growing fast, we can help you get ahead of the curve, while providing value along the way.