Monday, November 24, 2008

He's not THAT cool

Kevin Drum:
I will just say this. If this turns out to be right — if Al Franken really does win by 27 votes — then I suggest we eliminate elections entirely and simply allow Nate Silver to tell us who our congressional and presidential winners are in the future. It would be a lot cheaper, and probably just as accurate.

Stepping back a bit, I'm going to make a prediction: As the amount of data available on the Internet increases, there will be more and more "Nate Silvers" in different areas: geeky individuals who use publicly available data to equal or outperform the professional priesthood of a given sector. Calling market fluctuations, predicting what movies will be hits, who knows what else. In the past, the information necessary to do this was locked in expensive reports that only insiders had access to. These days, the information available publicly is often good enough to make professional level decisions. Also, people who post their models and predictions on the Web can get instant feedback from informed people, and thus rapidly hone and refine their models. There's nothing preventing "traditional" experts from doing this, but I think the Web's "cycle time" is much faster than many pre-web folks are capable of taking advantage of.


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