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Solution to Marketing Mysteries: the Real Revenge of the Nerds October 31, 2006

Posted by David Card in Media.

Ahh, the naivete of academics. At a Washington symposium this month, the Times reports Cornell prof Jon Kleinberg waxing poetical on the power of computing to solve life’s mysteries:

    “We’re really witnessing a revolution in measurement,” Dr. Kleinberg said.

    The new social-and-technology networks that can be studied include e-mail patterns, buying recommendations on commercial Web sites like Amazon, messages and postings on community sites like MySpace and Facebook, and the diffusion of news, opinions, fads, urban myths, products and services over the Internet. Why do some online communities thrive, while others decline and perish? What forces or characteristics determine success? Can they be captured in a computing algorithm?…

    “This is the introduction of computing and algorithmic processes into the social sciences in a big way,” Dr. Kleinberg said, “and we’re just at the beginning.”

Riiiight. Let’s see, there’s a $16 billion US online advertising business trying to solve that measurement problem, not to mention the $280 billion spent off-line in the US. But no, it’s social science grants that’ll do the trick! Don’t tell Google, or their PhDs will all go back!

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