Using RSS feeds to peer into the future

Using RSS feeds to peer into the future: My friend, Patrick Ruffini, has an experiment running called the 2008 Presidential Wire that he told the Washington Post (third item, “the early line”) is a “buzz tracker.”

While Patrick is very partisan (he was the Bush Campaign’s webmaster), the 2008 Presidential Wire is unfiltered and unbiased. It merely tracks (utilizing the RSS feeds of political blogs and mainstream media) those articles and posts that include mentions of names of potential candidates for president.

In addition to this “aggregation” function, check out the different types of statistical analysis of the RSS data that are displayed in the right-hand column. Who’s being mentioned the most, who’s trending up, down. In other words, Patrick’s experiment is one in analyzing information flooding forth from RSS feeds to discover trends being revealed in the blogosphere and traditional media.

I’m the first to say it’s way too early to be pondering anything related to the 2008 election, however, when I look at Patrick’s experiment, I’m awed by the trendspotting power of it. This is truly an amazing display of how tapping into the magic of RSS and the conversations it tracks, can give one a jump of hours, days, weeks or even months on what the media will get around to one day determining is “conventional wisdom.” For example, if such a tool had been around in 2003, it would have revealed the extent of the buzz taking place about Howard Dean way before the mainstream media recognized it.

And since I just spent an hour this evening telling Patrick personally how impressed I am with what he’s doing, I thought I should say so publicly, as well.