Getting in the mood
from The World In 2012 print edition of The Economist
An urge to know what others will be up to next is part of the human condition. Soothsayers, fortune-tellers, stockbrokers—and publications like this one—have been catering to that obsession since mankind first began making plans for the future. Their record has been mixed. The biggest hurdle is the apparent unpredictability of individual behaviour. But if you knew the mood of all those involved, might a clearer picture emerge?
The problem is that those involved can number millions, and their thinking is tricky to tap. But a new breed of forecasters think it is becoming a little easier. They are using “sentiment analysis” to pick out the emotionally charged words and phrases which pepper online exchanges.