In data we trust: Lessons to be learned from Brexit and Trump

by | Jun 24, 2016 | Big Data, Politics and Government - UK, Politics and Government - US

Many people in the UK and, frankly, the world were stunned by the Brexit vote to leave the European Union. But maybe we all should have seen it coming.

In an article in Vox by Ezra Klein, After Brexit and Trump, it’s time to stop trusting our guts and start trusting the polls, he writes in regards to the Donald Trump ascendancy to the GOP leadership and the recent Brexit vote, “Polling is proving a much better guide to political outcomes right now than recent history or established norms.”

Klein further writes, “We’re skeptical of data that baldly contradicts how we know the world to work”.

And the truth is, with all this uncertainty in financial markets and the political landscape, the only truth we can count on, is what the data tells us—especially in this ever-fractured world of diverse opinions, beliefs, and backgrounds.

The reality is, the diversity of opinion that exists is just a reflection of the diversity within the media.

Traditional media in the print and broadcast realms would have us believe that journalism is under threat and the profession is becoming adversely hurt by the internet. But that’s not necessarily the case. Either way, what is certain is that media is quickly evolving.

What has been lost is the hegemony of influence that large media outlets once had, because of the multitude of sources we can now access through the internet.

Social media is a huge influencer now. Because of big data and advanced analytics, influencers can target people with pinpoint accuracy almost instantaneously and help shape their opinions. Social platforms with millions of users now have access to various data on those users.

Facebook, for example, can predict who you are voting for.

Then there’s the ever-growing amount of media sources. For an industry that’s supposed to be dying, it sure is rapidly expanding (at least in the online realm).

The amount of media sources that MediaMiser tracks is growing daily. We have teams of people that manage our media outlet and journalist database, with new outlets constantly being added. The metadata we use to analyze what the influencers are saying and who is being influenced is also constantly updated.

Gone are the days when you could just talk to your neighbour, pick up that morning’s paper, or watch Walter Cronkite and instantly know that day’s prevailing wisdom.

If you want greater certainty about what’s going on in the world around you, for the sake of your own organization or even your investments, you need to leverage analytics and big data to make sense of the maelstrom of information and opinion out there.

Brett Serjeantson


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