One Sunday morning in April, Christopher Burgess and his wife, Kathy, were sitting at their dining room table, engaged in the time-honored ritual popular with many U.S. couples: namely, screaming at the political talk shows on TV.
“Whoever was talking said Obama said this, and it was taken totally out of context,” recalls Burgess. “And then the next person said Romney said that, and that too was taken out of context.”
What made this normally mundane moment different, however, was that Burgess is the chief operating officer for Atigeo, a Bellevue, Wash.-based startup that’s been working on a Big Data platform designed to extract relevant insight from any software application.
His wife reminded him of this as they sat in front of the TV that day.
“You’ve got all this technology,” Burgess says his wife told him. “Do something about it.”
He did. He and his team at Atigeo developed blue2012red.xpatterns.com and red2012blue.xpatterns.com that help voters know what the Barack Obama and Mitt Romney campaigns are actually saying about various topics.
It is what the candidates actually are saying because the content comes from their Facebook and Twitter posts, or through other RSS feeds.
Underlying the sites is Atigeo’s xPatterns platform. When any search term is entered, xPatterns returns direct links to the most relevant posts. Users then can drag any of those results into another search field to get additional, related posts.
(Two sites were created in the interest of fairness, to give both the red and blue first billing, and help ensure traffic doesn’t lean heavily toward one party or the other.)
Burgess says the sites aim to ensure a more informed electorate, while also delivering on the company’s mission of demonstrating the potential of Big Data and demystify it. For now, there are no goals to make any money with these sites.
“It was a conscious decision to put the tools of Big Data analytics in the hands of everyone,” Burgess said. “We are absolutely focused on turning our technology into products and services for a wiser planet.”
Atigeo’s experimental sites represent a unique twist on the growing trend of using analytics technologies to sift through the so-called Big Data that’s become so important to many companies and enterprises, including large-scale political campaigns, during this social media era.
With voters today expressing so many feelings about candidates and issues via their Facebook and Twitter pages, new approaches to gathering election intelligence are needed.