Presidential Watch 2008

We’ve been getting a fair amount of information in the European media about the presidential race in the USA, but I’ve still not been following things as closely as I should. Came across this resource recently that could help out: Presidential Watch 2008 from Linkfluence. Two interesting things here:

First, the use of information visualization is quite good, I believe. The graphs could be drawn a little better, but overall it’s fairly intuitive to use and provides a good amount of control. The main focus is to show trends–mostly at the source level. And it does this good. I like the Trends Monitor, where you can put two candidates head to head on a chart. (I assume this is a Flex application rendered in Flash on the browser.)

Second, the use of analytics to measure influence is interesting. The Watch includes blogs and communities as well as traditional online media, so you get a fairly broad picture. Looks like they are using volume of links to measure influence, which is a good start. To some degree, they may also be analyzing who is saying what and how they are saying it.

What you don’t get is how much the leading sources of information in the presidential campaign change opinions. Just because lots of people link to a certain political blog, for instance, doesn’t indicate whether others are persuaded to change their opinions. That’s hard to measure, but when talking about influence you ultimately need to know that.

About Jim Kalbach

Head of Customer Experience at MURAL


  1. Your take on PW08 is most interesting and insightful.
    The number of inbound links is indeed our primary metrics for measuring the influence of the various sites taking part in the political debate – this is the metrics used to determine the size of a node on the map. Outbound links are also important to determine a site’s position on the map: which community does it want to belong to?
    Besides the trends, we also offer to hear in detail who’s saying what and how they are saying it. To make things simple and relevant, we order the various posts and articles dealing with a given topic by potential influence, measured in terms of global authority of the site (overall number of inbound links), editorial activity thereof (overall number of articles, comments, etc.) and last but not least, of viral pick-up of the post (have other websites referred to this specific post in the debate). Obviously, these are for paying clients only…
    As far as changing opinions goes, the opportunity to do so (exposure and referrals) is what we already measure. But this is certainly something we have in mind.
    Anthony (linkfluence)

  2. James Kalbach

    Hi Anthony,

    Thanks for the info. Sounds like you are all doing the right things. I’m currently working on a text analytics project. Of course, being a UI Designer my interest is centered on the representation of the data. But in order to do that well, you also have to understand the metrics and how they are generated.


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