It is almost exactly a year ago that I joined Microsoft. I was lucky enough with my timing that my first week here coincided with TechFest. TechFest is an expo put on by Microsoft Research to showcase new and ongoing innovation internally. What I remember most about that first week was how impressed I was at the diversity of work being carried out by MSR. While this event is an internal one, there is also a press day which takes some of these research projects and demonstrates them to the media. This year's press day was yesterday.
The work that we've been doing in the social media space here at Live Labs is not yet ready for the outside world. However, one of the projects that builds on our work - done by a group of colleagues at MSR - was on display at yesterday's press event.
BLEWS (blogs and news) is an application that sits at the intersection between social media (in this case, weblogs) and main stream media (textual news). The project web site best sums up the goals:
While typical news-aggregation sites do a good job of clustering news stories according to topic, they leave the reader without information about which stories figure prominently in political discourse. BLEWS uses political blogs to categorize news stories according to their reception in the conservative and liberal blogospheres. It visualizes information about which stories are linked to from conservative and liberal blogs, and it indicates the level of emotional charge in the discussion of the news story or topic at hand in both political camps. BLEWS also offers a “see the view from the other side” functionality, enabling a reader to compare different views on the same story from different sides of the political spectrum. BLEWS achieves this goal by digesting and analyzing a real-time feed of political-blog posts provided by the Live Labs Social Media platform, adding both link analysis and text analysis of the blog posts.
Here is a close up:
The application has had a reasonable amount of press coverage:
Congratulations to the BLEWS team: Michael Gamon, Sumit Basu, Dmitriy Blenko, Danyel Fisher and Christian Konig.
Note also that we have a paper on the system to be presented at ICWSM in a few weeks.