Movie Moguls Put Toe In Delphi Pool

Movie studio executives have found a new way to predict how well a particular movie will fare. MIT professor Chris Dellarocas has conducted an analysis of reader reviews submitted to YahooMovies and Amazon.

The study uses a control-group survey and statistical analysis to show that amateur reviews in the first week of a film's release can predict the long-term performance of the movie.

In his remarkable 1976 novel Shockwave Rider, John Brunner wrote about a method of prediction called a Delphi pool which made use of the fact that everyone in North America was online and expressing their opinions:

First you corner a large - if possible, a very large - number of people who, while they've never formally studied the subject you're going to ask them about and hence are unlikely to recall the correct answer, are nonetheless plugged into the culture to which the question relates.

Then you ask them, as it might be, to estimate how many people died in the great influenza epidemic which followed World War I...

Curiously, when you consolidate their replies they tend to cluster around the actual figure as recorded in almanacs, yearbooks and statical returns.

It's rather as though this paradox has proved true: that while nobody knows what's going on around here, everybody knows what's going on around here.

Well, if it works for the past, why can't it work for the future? Three hundred million people with access to the integrated North American data-net is a nice big number of potential consultees. (More.)

Another very striking attempt to make use of this kind of idea was the Policy Analysis Market (PAM), a proposed futures exchange developed by our friends at the Devense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). PAM was intended to be a kind of "futures market" for the Middle East; investors could trade futures based on political outcomes in the region.

Find out more about predicting movie succes by analysis of net chatter by reading Online amateur movie reviews predict box office success. The article on Delphi pool has more info on PAM. See the original article Predicting Success From Net Chatter.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 6/8/2004)

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