Opinions are outcome of personal processing of world’s information, which guide decisions and actions.
- Other’s opinions are value-able when one doesn’t have enough information to process and form an opinion, and yet one needs to decide or act.
- And when collective opinion is required or is better than opinion based on self experiences.
a) experts’ opinion – which are value-able because of special skill and knowledge of the expert.
b) public opinion – Value-able as collective wisdom.
There are many ways to get opinions :
1) Polling – basic tool of democracy. Ask specific
yes or nomultiple choice questions. Then perform quantitative analysis to know the opinion of majority.
2) In-direct observations – crowd in a restaurant suggests its popularity.
3) Stories – They are the best communication modes and inform the teller’s opinions / thoughts.
However unlike polls, people don’t write quantitative opinions and therefore very little analysis can be done to them. One metric that Whospoke.com uses is the number of people writing about the topic, as an indication of the popularity. Mostly it is qualitative opinion. On the other hand, polls can become biased based on questions, the choices and the analysis done.
There are many challenges in the implementation :
a) providing a summary of the opinions (whospoke provides a word cloud of the opinions). While one can go and read the detail behind, it is important to give gist of the opinions.
b) noise filtering – many people seem to hmm and huhh.. instead of stating their opinions. (Whospoke prioritizes the opinions based on the reputation of the opinionator – assumption being that if someone is popular, he must be genuinely stating his opinion)
c) contextual – unasked opinions are useless. How to provide opinions when needed – at the time of buying, deciding…
d) trusted sources – We value opinions from our friends and family more than strangers. How to filter/prioritize based on list of friends (dynamically identified, based on those I comment about, those that I read often, those that I refer to).
If one could overcome these challenges, there are many uses of this:
1) User opinions are very value-able for any organization / company.
2) Governance of countries and such … require technology transformation of public opinion capture and analysis.
3) At personal level, we all crave to know what others think. That is key reason for fashion and such things.
4) This helps in evolution of things- bad products get thrown out and good ones grow.
5) Marketing becomes less relevant. Good products would be talked about and bought.
If you find this interesting, check out whospoke.com and use this button on your web page /blog.