Test for Prediction Markets: They Say Obama, but Polls Say It’s Tied

Fact: According to the latest Rasmussen poll released Saturday July 12, and promptly headlined by the Drudge Report, “The race for the White House is tied. The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Saturday shows Barack Obama and John McCain each attract 43% of the vote.” Newsweek is reporting a similar result in its own poll, with Obama moving down and McCain up (“Obama, McCain in Statistical Dead Heat“), and other polls increasingly show a similarly close race.

Analysis: I’ve been tracking the growing divide between two quite different methods purporting to offer statistical predictive analysis for the November presidential election. Polls are saying one thing, but Prediction Markets are saying another. 

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Up Late? Innovate.

Here’s some quick thought-provoking advice from Phil McKinney, who runs HP’s Innovation Program Office.  (Phil has his own blog as well, but the advice comes from an interview yesterday in the San Jose Mercury News.)

Q. One of your tips for innovation is to stay up late, because that’s when your filters are down. (The mental filters that rule out wild ideas, which might turn out to be good ones.) Do you still do that?

A. “Oh yeah, it drives my wife crazy. The idea really is to go back to things you’d do before you were successful, before you learned that you’ve always got to be on your guard.”

Man, do I swear by that!  Phil has some other points that I’m less enamored with, mostly because I don’t believe he’s thinking very radically.  His point that in the future we might be data-mining healthcare histories is undercut by the fact that we’re already doing it, as I blogged yesterday

Another less-than-startling prediction: We’ll still be using Second-Life style virtual worlds two decades from now?  Please!  I suppose we’ll also still be changing toner cartridges!!

Check out Phil’s blog, it reflects his innovative thinking better 🙂   But don’t read it till after midnight…

 
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Prediction Markets: Research and Limits

Fact: A story in Science Daily this week, “Election Forecasters Preparing For Historic Election,” relates the publication this month of the “assembled insights of prominent election forecasters in a special issue of the International Journal of Forecasting.” 

Analysis:  The journal articles are available here for download.  One of them, “Prediction Market Accuracy in the Long Run” (by Joyce E. Berg, Forrest D. Nelson, and Thomas A. Reitz from the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business), compares the presidential election forecasts produced from the granddaddy of them all, the Iowa Electronic Market (IEM), to “forecasts from an exhaustive body of opinion polls.”  Science Daily says they find that the IEM is “usually more accurate than the polls.”

If we extrapolate out, these election markets are special cases of prediction markets, and I’m always interested in those.

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Google App Engine and the Gathering of Clouds

How many Cloud Computing platforms would you say there are today? 

Some abhor the notion of there being multiple clouds – by this thinking there is only one “cloud” in an almost Zen manner, meaning “the grid” and the ability to reach in, somewhere somehow, and use someone else’s compute capacity, web apps, services, storage, etc.  Some others, however, as Amazon and others roll out their branded ability to do that reach, are beginning to call these “clouds” — I prefer to think about them as distinct platforms enabling cloud computing, but that’s starting to become a hazy definition. 

Next week the world will hear more about Microsoft’s Mesh strategy.

I feel like an observer out on a prairie on a hot summer afternoon, watching the sky as cumulo-nimbus shapes emerge and burgeon across the horizon.  The multiplicity is going to inevitably lead to feature differentiation, competitive marketing, a full hype cycle with naysayers and boosters (see Fortune magazine), down-market competition, shoddy wannabe clouds, boom and bust, market shake-out, etc. etc. – good times! 

How many such platforms (how many clouds) will there be in future?  How many should there be?  And if multiplication really occurs, is this any different from “utility computing” and aren’t we heading back to the days of the mainframe-model of time-sharing?

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The Future of Enterprise Computing – and Social Computing

I wrote the other day about how highly ranked the University of Virginia’s undergrad business school is (a close second in BusinessWeek’s annual ranking), and mentioned that one reason is the creative research and programs they sponsor.

In fact, thanks to UVA’s McIntire School of Commerce, I enjoyed a great day recently exploring some of my favorite topics with leading experts.  I was an invited speaker at their one-day conference on The Future of Enterprise Computing on March 14th, presented by McIntire’s Center for the Management of Information Technology (CMIT).  It was a fascinating day….

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Wall Street Journal – Peering into the Future, Dimly

The Wall Street Journal ran a collection of think-pieces today on “Thinking About Tomorrow: How will technology change the way we shop, learn and entertain ourselves? How will it change the way we get news, protect our privacy, connect with friends? We look ahead 10 years, and imagine a whole different world.”

My take on the story, though, was “ho-hum.” Looking ahead 10 years should get the mind a little further than easily predictable stuff such as this: “Mobile devices will get smaller and more powerful, and will connect to the Internet through high-speed links. The result: People will be able to do anything on a hand-held that they can now do on a desktop computer. In fact, they’ll be able to do even more, as mobile gadgets increasingly come equipped with global-positioning-system gear that can track your every move. As you drive around, for instance, you might get reviews of nearby restaurants automatically delivered to a screen in your car — maybe even projected onto the windshield.”

Aside from the safety aspect of that type of projection, this scenario surely is only a year or so away – not 10.

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