The Twitterverse stands poised yet again to take in a torrent of tweets surrounding the buzz and hype of another live event. The 84th Academy Awards airs this Sunday and has already been generating winner predictions, cries of snubbing, and guesses of who will wear what within the social media sphere—and digital agency Organic is ready to corral the chatter.
Teaming up with HP, Organic is launching the AwardsMeter, an HTLM5 app that analyzes up to 1,000 tweets per second, determines trends in the sentiment of the tweets, and then displays the results in real-time, reflecting who the public seems to be rooting for in the top eight categories: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Animated Film, and Best Screenplay. It also displays the leading keywords of what people are tweeting and a feature that allows viewers to vote yea or nay on a category within the app, tweeting out their cinematic judgment to followers.
The Awards Meter utilizes language analysis technology developed by HP Labs to pick apart tweets about the Oscars and determine whether or not it’s a positive or negative message. Conor Brady, chief creative officer at Organic, says the concept behind the app fit in perfectly with the idea he had been mulling over of "the second screen," integrating mobile device and tablet usage with live TV events. "Let’s face it, the Oscars has more opinion and debate than many things that happen on TV, so there’s already a natural social conversation going on," he says. "One of the things we were able to do was bring the technology from the labs and partner it with the thinking we had done around the second screen."
The language analysis technology is actually part of a larger research endeavor by HP Labs to "move away from the weekly and monthly batch analysis and transactional data to more real-time analysis," says Riddhiman Ghosh, Senior Research Scientist at HP Labs. "There are two key pieces to the technology: one is understanding the language and the other is the real-time component because it’s interesting if you can really, down to the second, put your finger on the pulse and be able to extract opinion and see what people are saying," Ghosh says.
The technology is so precise that it’s able to measure the context within a tweet, a trickier task than gauging sentiment given the pervasiveness of colloquialisms in today’s lexicon and questionable grammar usage. Technology aside, one could question why someone wouldn’t simply monitor trending topics about the Oscars within Twitter. But Todd Drake, VP of Technology at Organic, is hoping users will appreciate the Awards Meter app as a "fun and engaging" addition to the viewing experience. "We’re really bringing some life to the data at an aggregate level," he says. "The sentiment and the pulling out of keywords and phrases is something you’re not going to get from the trending topics [on Twitter]. There’s a little more insight into the flavor of what’s going on."
With the Awards Meter’s simple visual interface, Brady stresses the need for apps of this nature to balance the notion of enhancing the conversation without being a distraction. "The last thing you want to do is get in the way of a viewing experience because people will get put off of technology," he says. "It’s about quick and easy access presented in a way that’s useful at a glance."