Wall Street Traders Mine Tweets to Gain a Trading Edge

From this USA Today article comes the story of a Johan Bollen, a professor at Indiana University who has authored a book on extracting sentiment information from Twitter.

Bollen analyzed the text of daily Twitter feeds (9.6 million in total) over a nine-month period in 2008 with two mood-tracking tools. One simply measures whether the daily tweets were positive or negative. The other tool sought to measure human mood states by categorizing tweets under six terms equated with different mood types: calm, alert, sure, vital, kind and happy.

He claims that using this technique allowed him to anticipate Dow stock prices 3-4 days later with 87% accurracy. I havent looked at the study in detail, so I don’t know if he’s measuring the overall movement of the DOW, or specific issues.

Mining Twitter sentiment seems to be all the rage. Streambase recently announced a feed based on Twitter sentiment, and Thompson Reuters’ Open Calais has offered similar features for a while now.

What’s news here is not that these techniques are being applied.. I wrote about a similar mashup last June. No; the thing I think is interesting is that you are now seeing this approach become mainstream.

I’m certainly not the first person to advodate this approach, but I gave clear examples in Mashup Patterns (back in 2009) of using this technique to get “Advance Knowledge of an Industry’s Performance” and to “Spot the Underlying Causes of Trends in the Housing Market”. Besides market performance, I wrote about how firms could use these techniques to uncover issues that might threaten the reputation of their brand (or of a competitor’s).

Between Innovation and Commoditization lies a Competitive Gap

Like most innovations, there is an “S” curve that takes you from humble beginnings to ubiquity. The gap in-between these points is where you can create a competitive advantage. I think this latest news demonstrates that Leading Indicator mashups are nearing the right side of this chart.

Firms are perpetually caught in a struggle between experimenting with new products and tools that can give them an edge in their market, and playing catch-up with companies that have proven-out new ideas and deployed them more quickly.

What’s interesting about Mashups is that while some applications of the technology are clearly moving to the commodity stage, many others are not. And “Enterprise Mashups” as a discipline unto itself is definitely still down to the right of the chart.

“Managing Innovation” may seem like an oxymoron, but firms should recognize this maturation curve and try to move items along it more quickly. This helps maximize the time they can enjoy the competitive advantages the new technology yields.

For the “Leading Indicator” pattern, I think that window is closing quickly (if it’s not already closed). But there are still large problem spaces where mashups can offer new and valuable solutions that will help you leap ahead.

One Response to “Wall Street Traders Mine Tweets to Gain a Trading Edge”

  • NEW YORK &151; Tweet this: To gain a trading edge, Wall Street traders are now using clever computer programs to monitor and decode the words, opinions, rants and even keyboard-generated smiley ces posted on social-media sites like Twitter.com.

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