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did a detailed coolhunting for all 100 intellectuals, with yielded
rankings somewhat different from the Foreign Policy/Prospect poll,
where German philosopher Jürgen Habermas got the leading spot,
followed by Fethullah Gülen. Figure 7–10 illustrates the tangled
web of relationships among the intellectuals, which makes it nearly
impossible to track individual connections, but permits us to meas-
ure the importance of each intellectual.
But this could also be because we did this coolhunt about one
month after the online voting was concluded, and as we have seen
before, the collective mind of the crowd is a fickle thing, which can
change in an instant.
Predicting the Outcome
of the Academy Awards
Besides predicting the strengths of brands and where political elec-
tions are heading, we have also successfully forecast the outcome
of the Academy Awards. For the 2007 Oscars, a team of students
at the University of Cologne analyzed the Internet Movie Database
(IMDB). In particular, we looked at the intensity of buzz in the
online Oscar forum, where people talk about which actors, direc-
tors, and movies might win an Oscar.
FIGURE 7–10.
Social network on the Web of world’s top-100 leading intellectuals.
The students also examined the general discussion in the
“Reviews and Previews” forum, to predict how much money a movie
might generate at the box office. They developed their own method
where they constructed a social network of people based on what
volume of responses a person posting on the forum generated. If
somebody’s post elicited many responses, the person who was post-
ing became central in the social network. The students then com-
bined the social network position of the poster with what posters
said, and whether they spoke positively or negatively about a certain
movie title. A comment such as, “I think Pirates of the Caribbean is a
great movie,” for example, would count positively for the opening-
day box-office prediction for that movie.
Looking at the changes in what people said on the IMDB forum,
in positive or negative words, combined with their social network
position as an approximation of their influence, allowed us to cor-
rectly predict how much money a movie would make, one week
before the movie was officially shown for the first time.
Applying the same concept to predict if a movie would be
awarded an Oscar, the students made nine predictions for Oscars
out of the twenty-five movies discussed the most in the IMDB
Oscar online forum. Their clear front-runner for an Oscar was The
Departed, which indeed won four Oscars. Among their other eight
predictions, four won an Oscar, and three others were nominated
for an Oscar. Note that these predictions were made more than a
month before the Oscars nominations were announced. In addi-
tion, the intensity of the buzz about the movie also corresponded
to the “quality” of the Oscars obtained, with The Departed, winner
of Best Picture and Best Director awards and two “lesser” Oscars,
generating much more buzz than Little Miss Sunshine, which gar-
nered two Oscars for Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor.
This corresponds very well to the real-world ranking among the
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