In the early days of the fight against the Stop Online Piracy Act (#SOPA) and PROTECT IP Act (#PIPA) a couple things were becoming clear to me:
- Once people learn what is in these bills and where they came from, this is going to be “kind of a big deal.”
- Even without much coverage by the main/lame-stream media, people were talking about #SOPA and #PIPA.
One of the many things I love about Twitter is that it provides an uncensored look into what people are thinking about ‘in the moment.’ Moreover with recent advancements in data visualization and sentiment analysis, this data is actually much more interesting and reliable than traditional opinion polling.
From April of 2010 until August of 2011 I had the privilege of working with some very skilled developers at a local website development and social media consulting firm here in DC called The Brick Factory (@BrickFactory). There I lead the continued development of a tool we called Slurp140 to become a tool that we could deploy internally or for customers at a moments notice. After a quick email to @DanielKnisley we now had our own version of Slurp140 tracking mentions of #sopa.
At PK, I was connected to Fred Benson, a Data Engineer at Kickstarter who had the advanced knowledge we needed to start to make sense of the data. While we never had the chance to really dig into sentiment analysis, the sheer beauty and complexity of what we say was astounding.
If there is anything I have learned about social media and media outreach, its that having irrefutable data on your side is hard to argue with. While there was a good amount of buzz created by releasing the blog post on the data and visualization to the public, we will never know if simply seeing this influenced (or scared) anyone into taking this issue a little more seriously.
Its the closest you will get (for now) to flying a spaceship through the virtual space of the Internet.