November 20, 2003 16:15 | Culture / NewsPundit / WebBlogging

Electioneering, stats and the network effect.

What a seriously odd series of moments the last 72 hours have been.

Not five minutes ago I thought to myself "I'd like to see some visual representations of U.S. campaign stats. Like, where's the candidates money coming from, where are they spending it, where are they now, what are their itineraries, their timelines., etc...

Running though my RSS subscriptions, I came across this entry of David Weinberger's, in which he links to this map displaying where the candidate's funds are coming from. That takes care of request one.

Just before that, I checked my email for the first time today only to receive two separate emails, unrelated from each other (The emails that is - both senders I met in Boston and have shared meals and great conversations with and both of whom I now have very interesting friendships with), one inviting me to Burlington to hang out at Dean HQ and the other inspiring me with the clout to do just that, though why exactly I would want to is still somewhat unclear to me.

Last night, I fought back tears watching Josh Lyman on The West Wing be given back his "wings" and admitted back into the "war room". Don't ask. The night before I watched, enthralled, a documentary about the Kennedy brothers and their politics. Go figure. Not to mention the Gore Vidal interview on Charlie Rose which blew me away and off to the bookstore to buy his book. For some weird reason I also grabbed "Political Philosophy - A Short Introduction". Can't hurt.

Back to stats, similar to the MoneyMaps above, yesterday I cam across a project by Ethan Zuckermann, another fascinating person who was gracious enough to invite me along to a dinner he was having with Feedster creator, Scott Johnson. Ethan's project (one of apparently many many, GeekCorps being another) is "Global Attention Profiles":

A Global Attention Profile looks at how a media outlet pays attention to 180 different nations. Instead of comparing how many stories Google has on the Green Bay Packers versus the Dallas Cowboys, we compare Google stories on Sudan versus Libya versus Lebanon. The resulting data gives us a picture of how an individual media source, at a given moment in time, pays attention to different nations.

Brilliant! Can we get one of these maps displaying Attention Profiles for the candidates?!

Why do I care. Dunno. I guess I think things are still pretty sour in the world and anything helps... ;)


"Can we get one of these maps displaying Attention Profiles for the candidates?!"

Sure. I don't have time to write one, but I'll happily hand you the code that's running GAP, if you'd like to play with it. What might be interesting is to pick news sources with a specific geographic area (NYTimes, LATimes, etc.) and search for the names of the different candidates. You're going to have a tough data filtering problem for the more common names (there's a lot of Deans out there besides Howard...), but it might give you an interesting indication on who the Iowa papers are featuring on any given day, for instance. Email me if you want the code...

One version of an Attention Profile for the candidates is already running at with support from Feedster. It's not geo-based, but it's a start.