Can Twitter Tell the Future? Ode to Michael Jackson and Walter Cronkite

by claire on July 17, 2009

Twitter is great for showing what’s happening now:

Walter Cronkite Passed Away Today and Shown Immediately thereafter in Twitter Trending Topics

Walter Cronkite Passed Away Today and His Death Was Shown Immediately thereafter in Twitter Trending Topics

But had it been around in 1985, could it have better predicted this?

mj-2000-prediction-reality-sidexside

I attended a Citizen Journalism panel discussion for Social Media Club on Monday which talked a lot about Twitter and Citizen Journalism. What the discussion scraped the surface about – and I truly find most fascinating – is the ability for Twitter to take a pulse on society (which Twitter management was on to in the documentation recently released by Techcrunch). This pulse is great for gathering current sentiments about what is happening around the globe and particularly great for getting breaking news.

What I’d love to see is some new tools made that do in-depth analysis and attempt to make predictions about the future. I imagine there’s a lot of things that can be predicted by listening to the constant chitter and chatter.  Albeit, it’s not likely anyone could predict Michael’s obsession with plastic surgery would end in his latest appearance (or possibly even death), but at minimum, noting rising tensions or sentiments about a topic may lead to predicting a future major event.

Thanks to San Francisco Sentinel and Chicken Crap for the inspiration (and MJ photos).

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