A tech focus on the Presidential Race

Friday 5 – Obama vs Romney, Data the Winner

Chris Mayer
White-House

We take a glance at some of the data stories to emerge out of the race to the White House

We might be across the pond, but the team at JAX Towers
were monitoring proceedings across the United States of America
eagerly. You’ve likely seen the endless amount of Tumblr’s
dedicated to Tuesday’s events, all the parody Youtube videos and
you’ve probably seen Obama’s speech (SPOILER). But we won’t be
going over those. Sorry.

Now with the ticker tape settling and the Romney supporting
boards being discarded, we’ve scoured the world for all those tech
stories you may have missed whilst casting your vote. Here they
are…

1.
We Need A Programmer for President


Before the US went to the voting booth, DZone’s Mitch
Pronschinske
offered his own take on the White House race,
offering up a potential third candidate for President – a software
developer. His reasoning is fairly sound – this new candidate would
introduce programming into the curriculum like in Estonia, abolish
software patents and extra support for space exploration. Perhaps
we’re getting tired of the same old names and need someone more
innovative – and who is more innovative than a developer?

2. Precog Sentiment Tweet Analysis

With this being the first election to have Twitter as the truly
international soapbox for everyone to air their opinions on
candidate (2008 doesn’t really count as the masses weren’t using
it), we were intrigued to see how companies would use the social
media site, and put their own spin on events. We talked to
Precog
this week and were impressed by this – their Twitter Sentiment
Analysis.

Turning the raft of data into a cool real-time dashboard that
gives an inkling how each state is thinking is a nifty idea and one
executed brilliantly. 

“The Geo Chart above displays the attitude of Twitter users
toward the presidential candidates over the past hour. The total
number of non-neutral tweets gathered is displayed by day in the
barchart. Twitter’s API is used to search for geo-located tweets
that mention Obama and Romney. The text of these tweets is then
analyzed using AlchemyAPI’s sentiment analysis
API. These results are then stored using Precog’s API. This data is
then analyzed using Labcoat and displayed
using the ReportGrid
visualization library.”

 Looking at the dashboard display, it looked
like it called America’s thinking through Tweets correctly.
Kudos.

3. How Twitter survived during the Election

Speaking of Twitter – just how did they manage to make it out of
Election Night unscathed without even a hint of a Fail Whale? The
answer appears to be Java. Yes, Java.

In a post on
Twitter’s Engineering
blog,
Mazen Rawashdeh, VP of Infrastructure Operations Engineering
gave us the tale of the tape. During the day, there were 31 million
Tweets, working out to be a staggering 327,452 Tweets per Minute
(TPM). Then you factor in Barack Obama’s most popular tweet
ever…


As you might be aware, Twitter is currently in infrastructure
transition – diverting mobile clients to the JVM, opposed to Ruby.
Given how many people use Twitter on mobile devices, that’s surely
a seal of approval to Java. 

It may not be 24/7 active as they want, but Twitter did a damned
fine job during the biggest surges.

4. The Data Scientists Behind Obama’s Win

A
very interesting article from TIME Magazine’s Michael Schere
r
praising the ‘little people’ who helped Barack Obama secured the
win on Tuesday – the data analysts. It’s amazing how the Obama team
used data to secure the 44th President’s victory and importantly
four more years in the White House. Well worth your time
reading.

5. Nate Silver bang on the money

Arguably the second biggest winner this week was NY Times
blogger and seemingly statistician extraordinaire, Nate Silver. His
blog FiveThirtyEight
established itself in 2008 as the place to get a near-perfect
electorate forecast, with only one state in 50 guessed incorrectly.
Rather than shrugging his shoulders, Silver bowled the perfect game
this year, correctly predicting every state. He did get the North
Dakota Senate Race incorrect, but in the grand scheme of things,
Silver is supreme really. He’s even become a minor celebrity,
appearing on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart and proclaimed Lord of
the Algorithms. Let’s hope it doesn’t go to his head, eh?

That’s your lot for this week, have a safe weekend wherever you
are!]

Image courtesy of Tom Lohdan

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