Sunday, May 20, 2012

Big data analysis and politics

Big data analysis is popping up in more contexts, and what better place in an election year than in politics. A ‘barcamp’ for campaign finance took place at Stanford May 19-20, 2012 where a hundred erstwhile participants quietly busied themselves in ten teams addressing different ways to apply big data and informatics to analyzing and improving the political process.

At the weekend hackathon, DataFest: Analyzing campaign finance data, participants learned some basic R, scripting, and quantitative data techniques to analyze data from websites like Influence Explorer. One project, for example, attempted to determine if House of Representatives Members who changed their vote at the last minute might have been influenced by campaign donations, or other factors obtained through data-mining techniques such as constituent demographics, ideology, and party voting record.

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