best to openly inform project participants about goals, the policies
and procedures applied, and most important, what’s in it for them.
In past projects, we have looked at communication among mem-
bers of a marketing team at a bank, at engineers at a Detroit car
company, at researchers in an Italian research lab, at executives in
a European global high-tech company, and at nurses in a Boston
hospital, to name just a few.
Let’s now look at some concrete examples to better understand how
Condor can be used to predict cool trends by finding the trendsetters.
Coolhunting U.S. Presidential Candidates
In May 2008, the battle among U.S. presidential candidates still was
a three-way fight between Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John
McCain. On May 5, the pastor of the predominantly black church
where Obama was a member, Jeremiah Wright, made inflammatory
remarks about the relationships between blacks and whites in the
United States. His remarks found immediate reflection in the
Coolhunting Blog buzz scores of the three presidential candidates
that same morning (see Figure 7–2), with things turning especially
bad for Barack Obama. As can be seen in the centrality score the fol-
lowing day, the damage done by the inciting remarks of his pastor
undermined Obama’s standing in the blogosphere. His score (in light
gray) had never been as low since we started tracking him in March
2008. While scores of all three candidates went down, in relative
terms, Hillary Clinton seemed to rebound (dark gray).
At the same time, the buzz on the Web seemed to indicate that
the damage was not so bad after all: Obama still was leading (as he
was in the polls in the “real world”), but because blogs point the way
of things to come, this was a real wake-up call for Obama to dis-
tance himself from his confrontational pastor—which he subse-
How are these buzz scores calculated? Figure 7–3 illustrates how
the centrality of each of the candidates is measured through the social
network built up through the links obtained by the search engine
queries (as described in the previous section). On March 29, 2008,
Obama and McCain each had a buzz share of 40 percent, while
Clinton’s was 20 percent. Repeating this process every day leads to
curves such as those shown in Figure 7–2 and also Figure 7–4, which
depicts the buzz score curve from March 2008 to the end of May 2008.
While Hillary Clinton had not yet conceded defeat (which she did
three days later on June 3), it is quite obvious from the buzz level that,
at least on the Web, her stardom could not keep up with the charisma
of Barack Obama. Her buzz score already had predicted future defeat
three months earlier. On the other hand, the coolhunting scores also
nicely illustrate how the prolonged fight between Clinton and Obama
hurt the Democratic candidates. John McCain won the Republican
Coolhunting Blog buzz scores of three presidential candidates: Hillary
Clinton, Barack Obama, and John McCain (May 5, 2008).
nomination in early March; soon thereafter his Web score jumped,
as the sharp rise in the black line around March 22 shows in Figure
7–4. Barack Obama’s score stayed more or less on the same level,
occasionally dipping and rebounding, but certainly not rising, while
Hillary Clinton’s fortunes were declining.
Polls about U.S. presidential elections are notoriously inaccurate,
but our Condor-based coolhunting tool that monitors the Web offers
a much faster and cheaper way to obtain the same information. For
most of the first six months of 2008, Barack Obama had been lead-
ing his competitor, John McCain, in the polls by three to six percent-
age points. This is far less than the fifteen points by which the
Democrats had been leading the Republicans in the polls for the sen-
According to many analysts, one hidden reason for the single-
digit lead of Obama was the issue of race. This is a delicate subject
that Americans seem afraid to admit in public and therefore lie
about to the pollster, similar to how people lie when asked about
going to church, exercising, and drinking alcohol. When asked in
Social network of websites talking about Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton,
and John McCain (March 29, 2008).