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By: Gigaom
April 09, 2013 at 18:04 PM EDT
Blab predicts what people will tweet, blog and report on
A startup called Blab has developed software for predicting conversations on social-media sties and news outlets. It's another example of applications offering insights using unstructured data that previously was difficult to work with.        

It’s one thing to monitor social statements on Twitter and other social networks as they happen. It’s another thing to predict what will happen over the next three days.

Blab, a Seattle-based company, has emerged with a tool that lets companies do just that, with visualizations of where conversations will pop up from more than 50,000 sources, including Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, YouTube, blogs and news outlets. It does this by paying close attention to where a conversation is now and then predicting based on what other conversations it could look like. For example, if people started talking about a previous Amazon Web Services outage on Twitter and then the conversation moved to blogs and then to mainstream media outlets, that same pattern could happen in the case of another AWS outage. That’s why measuring the trajectory of each conversation and storing it for future reference is critical to Blab’s operations.

Blab also shows the top three influencers of a given conversation. Comments from more influential people can help Blab identify what the dominant ideas will be around a particular topic. Following Hugo Chavez’s death, for example, customers could have seen that the Bolivarian Revolution was going to turn out to be the hottest area of discussion.

The Blab tool shows the probability and confidence of its predictions, so customers can get a sense of certainty. Possible use cases include updating advertisements and press releases with keywords and ideas to reflect forthcoming trends and get better results.

Predictive analytics and modeling have already become popular. Now companies are thinking up new ways to make predictions based on unstructured data that businesses can get a hold of, and that’s where Blab fits in. There’s also PredPol, which predicts where crime will happen, so police officers can focus on specific areas, and MindMeld, which offers up information that could be useful based on your speech. Researchers have also been trying to gain insights on possible medical treatments and, yes, social-media trends.

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