TALK/MAKE – What are the odds: Big data meets political science and they go to the races

‘What are the odds?’ (WATO) was an interdisciplinary collaboration between political scientists and human-computer interaction researchers at Swansea University to try to bring elements of big data to the world of political forecasting. The project used page scraping to gather data on political bets on gambling websites to form a picture of the likely outcome of large public votes.

In recent years, the politics of predicting political events has been front and centre of debates thanks to surprise results in the UK general elections.

While the data collected in WATO was initially intended for presentation to political sciences researchers it was also made available to individual members of the public on a front facing website – tell me the odds.

Designing and building the WATO system raised more questions than it has answered for us; we still need to better understand:

  • The role that trust plays in intensely political areas of research and design
  • The best ways to present complex gambling data to members of the public without misleading them about it’s reliability
  • How we can help members of the public to engage with the analysis of this data in complex, real time transparent ways
  • How we can help researcher make use of the large amount of archival data we have and, more generally, what the techniques are to harvest data that is in the public domain, but which doesn’t necessarily want to be

This session will seek to explore all of these issues and more and should be of interest to data scientists, political scientists; social scientists with an interest in big data; or anyone with an opinion on the intersection between politics and research.

Categories: Session Proposals, Session: Make, Session: Talk |

About Stephen Lindsay

I'm a computer scientist by trade with a strong interest in the politics of computer technology and the interactions between political systems (both formal and not) and computer systems.