Social media users are weighing in with their Oscar picks and pans, according to the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab, IBM, and the Los Angeles Times, who are measuring social media sentiment related to the 84th Academy Awards.
The project relies on new sophisticated analytics and natural language recognition technologies to gauge positive and negative opinions shared in millions of public tweets.
Focused on the Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Picture categories, the goal is to establish a model for measuring the volume and tone of worldwide Twitter sentiment to better understand moviegoers' opinions. The results are intended to illuminate how advances in technology can help identify important consumer trends.
The Times has published information about the project including an infographic illustrating ongoing sentiment. The analysis will be updated at www.latimes.com/senti-meter as sentiment evolves during the weeks leading up to the Academy Awards on Feb. 26.
"This project is about identifying 'The People's Oscar,' which means moving beyond pundits' opinions of who the winners may be, to understanding who real moviegoers want to see receive the highest accolades of the industry," said communication professor Jonathan Taplin, director of the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab. "We want to illustrate how new technologies can capture valuable information and opinions derived from the voices of influential movie fans."
As social media tools become more prevalent, those participating in the online conversation become increasingly influential, especially as their opinions travel faster and to a wider group of consumers.
The work between the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab and IBM is part of an ongoing collaboration to explore how technology can be used by organizations from news outlets and journalists to movie studios and retailers, in order to better understand, respond and predict public sentiment.
"The ability to apply a quantified measurement to social media chatter surrounding the top films and performances of the season, and to do so over a period of time, adds a valuable new dimension to The Times awards coverage," said Times Assistant Managing Editor Arts and Entertainment Sallie Hofmeister. "We're very interested in developing and embracing new technologies to inform our reporting and working with IBM and USC has made this early stage social sentiment tool possible."
In the case of the Oscar race, innovative analytics and language software from IBM is being used that distinguishes nuance and sarcasm in order to pinpoint relevant opinions of the nominated films, actors and actresses and show noteworthy trends. USC Annenberg and IBM have also applied similar techniques to film forecasting, sports and retailing in an effort to identify social media trends and better understand public opinions.
"Modern technology and social media platforms are changing the way consumers and organizations communicate," said Steve Canepa, General Manager of Media and Entertainment, IBM. "The collaboration between IBM, the University of Southern California and the Los Angeles Times demonstrates how the media industry is advancing at a pace consistent with the fast-evolving Twitterverse. By gaining insight from the growing world of social media, we can add a new layer of intelligence that will change how all industries engage with their digitally savvy consumers."
USC and IBM are also working to broaden student skills in analytics, demonstrating how Watson-inspired technologies can crunch complex data in real-time. Students are helping identify areas for research, experimenting with the software and helping to develop new technologies that mine for insights.