Prediction Markets — Who Will Lead the Senate? Follow the Prediction Markets

By Justin Wolfers,, Oct 11, 2014

How would commentary on the midterm election look if economists, rather than Beltway pundits, were calling the race? You would read a lot less about personalities, gaffes and gossip, and a lot more about fundamentals like the state of the economy. And you would certainly get a more sophisticated reading of polls and political prediction markets.

Campaign events often drive sharp shifts in sentiment, although these effects are typically short-lived. A result is that polls often fluctuate wildly even as electoral fortunes evolve slowly. But as Election Day approaches, polls tend to shift toward the fundamentals, as economic and political realities come into sharper focus. There’s no point being steered in the wrong direction by polls that will later reverse themselves, which is why careful poll analysis filters polling data through a lens that takes account of the underlying fundamentals.

How should you combine insights from the basic political factors — the state of the economy, opinion polls and voter expectations? Economics doesn’t provide a formula, but rather a suggestion: Turn to political prediction markets where people trade securities linked to election outcomes. When many people make trades based on their individual perspectives, the price comes to reflect each of the most relevant factors, effectively weighting each by the confidence that traders have in them.

Even though markets are prone to their own failures, they have amassed a better record of accuracy than even the most sophisticated models that are based on fundamentals and polling. The point is that while markets aren’t perfect, in practice they’re less imperfect than the other election forecasters.

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About:Media — The New Editors of the Internet

Dan Gillmor, The Atlantic, Aug 22 2014

Twitter and YouTube are among a tiny group of giant companies with greater and greater power—and less and less accountability—over what we read, hear, and watch online.

Who gave them this power? We did. And if we don’t take back what we’ve given away—and what’s being taken away—we’ll deserve what we get: a concentration of media power that will damage, if not eviscerate, our tradition of free expression.

We need, as web inventor Tim Berners-Lee has urged, to re-decentralize the Internet, and restore its promise as a medium where the action takes place at the edges of networks—where we wouldn’t need permission to communicate and innovate.

This is a pivotal time for our communications ecosystem. As we cede control to governments and corporations—and as they take it away from us—we are risking a most fundamental liberty, the ability to freely speak and assemble. Let’s not trade our freedom for convenience.

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About:Media — Why Audiences Hate Hard News—and Love Pretending Otherwise

Derek Thompson, The Atlantic, Jun 17 2014

Ask readers what they want, and they’ll tell you vegetables. Watch them quietly, and they’ll mostly eat candy.

This year, the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism asked thousands of people around the world what sort of news was most important to them. The graph below shows the responses from Americans. International news crushed celebrity and “fun” news by a margin of two-to-one. Economic and political news finished even higher.

Last year, BuzzFeed released a review of traffic to sites within its partner network, including the New York Times and The Atlantic. Of the 20 most viral stories across those sites, just three dealt with recent news events—the Miss America Pageant, a Netflix announcement, and the Video Music Awards —but the vast majority weren’t news. They were quizzes, lists, and emotional poppers.

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Prediction Markets — Bookies may be best bet to predict Referendum

By University of Stirling,, May 28, 2014

Professor David Bell from the University of Stirling looked at using “prediction markets” – which include the gambling industry – to forecast the outcome of the referendum. He concluded that these markets often produce more accurate results than relying on opinion polls, which sample opinion on the day they were collected, rather than directly trying to forecast outcomes.

In terms of the Scottish Referendum, Professor Bell studied the history of odds offered on “No” and “Yes” votes from 23 bookmakers between Sep 2013 and May 2014.

“At the end of the period, (the second week of May), the market estimate is that there is around a 7 in 10 chance of a ‘No’ vote,” he says.

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About:Media — The Supreme Court won’t intervene in the James Risen case. What’s next?

Mark Berman, The Washington Post, June 2 2014

The Supreme Court declined to step in Monday on behalf of James Risen, a New York Times reporter and author who faces potential jail time for not identifying a source.

Risen is the author of the 2006 book “State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration.” A chapter of that book detailed a CIA plan to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program. Prosecutors believe that Jeffrey A. Sterling, a former Central Intelligence Agency operative charged with leaking classified information, gave Risen information that was used for this chapter.

In 2011, federal prosecutors subpoenaed Risen to try and force him to testify at Sterling’s trial. Prosecutors said that Risen could essentially help them admit statements from the book into the trial. Risen vowed to fight the subpoena at the time, calling the issue “a fight about the First Amendment and the freedom of the press.”

Judge Leonie M. Brinkema largely agreed to quash the subpoena, writing in July 2011 that a “criminal trial subpoena is not a free pass for the government to rifle through a reporter’s notebook.” That decision was reversed last year, when a three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond ruled in a 2-1 decision that the First Amendment didn’t protect a reporter from being forced to testify about “criminal conduct that the reporter personally witnessed or participated in.”

Risen’s attorneys wrote in the appeal filed to the Supreme Court that for journalists such as Risen, “their jobs would be impossible without the ability to promise confidentiality to sources.” (The Washington Post was among the news organizations filing briefs on Risen’s behalf.)


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About:Media — We used to read the newspaper, now the news reads us.

@stefanwehrmeyer, @annabelchurch and @pudo, Ghostery, May 2014

Sites like Facebook and Twitter are often criticised in the media for their data-based business models. Ironically, they share user behaviour with far fewer shady ad networks than the average news site. Visiting Facebook will only request data from Facebook’s own servers, while a visit to Die Welt or F.A.Z. will notify 59 and 55 different sites, respectively.

This means that news sites put their readers to a difficult choice: accept the pervasive surveillance by advertisers and metrics services, or block those elements and reduce the advertising revenue for the news sites whose services they enjoy consuming.

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About:Media — EU Wants a ‘Right to Be Forgotten,’ But the Internet Never Forgets

Lance Ulanoff, Mashable, May 14, 2014

A top European Union court ruled on Tuesday that consumers can ask Google to remove potentially damaging content about them, also known as the preposterously-named “right to be forgotten.”

One problem: It’s exactly opposite of the way the Internet should work.

The EU’s action is such a fundamental misunderstanding of the web and digital record-keeping that it boggles the mind. Google’s job is not to police the Internet for negative comments or even dangerous information; that’s like saying a library can’t have books about Nazis or murder (or any less-than-praiseworthy biographies of Frank Sinatra).

If Google complies with this new rule (and they’re sure to put up a fight), how does it explain to the host sites that portions of their content are being hidden from search? Will it have a chance to appeal? What if actors or film directors try to hide bad reviews of their work — will the EU be the judge and jury for it all?

In my case, I found a simple way to “hide” the negative comments about me: Just keep working. I wrote more and more posts, and soon, the good comments and responses far outweighed the bad. You can still find some of the negative stuff, but it’s mostly buried digital miles deep under a mountain of reasonable online response.

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About:Media — The solutions to all our problems may be buried in PDFs that nobody reads

Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post, May 8, 2014

What if someone had already figured out the answers to the world’s most pressing policy problems, but those solutions were buried deep in a PDF, somewhere nobody will ever read them? According to a recent report by the World Bank, that scenario is not so far-fetched. Nearly one-third of their PDF reports had never been downloaded, not even once.

You know that World Bank report, about how nobody reads its PDFs? It’s only available as a PDF. Given the attention it’s receiving, it may also be one of their most-downloaded reports ever.

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Prediction Markets — Let Prediction Markets Flourish

By Adam Ozimek, Forbes, March 23, 2014

The existing evidence is positive about these markets as forecasting and information aggregation tools. But when looking at examples where these markets have underperformed we should really remember that even when Intrade was operating legally there were significant regulatory restrictions placed upon it, and most participants were operating in a gray market at best. For example, in a rule many were clearly ignoring, the CFTC technically required all participants to have assets of more than $5 million to $10 million. Another example is the popular Iowa Exchange Market, which is limited to “academic” traders who can make a maximum investment of $500.

As a result, far too much judgement of the efficacy of these markets ignores that fact that most existing data has been generated in fraught legal environments.

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About:Media — The First News Report on the L.A. Earthquake Was Written by a Robot

Will Oremus, Slate, March 17, 2014

It’s reasonable to expect that robo-journalism will improve over time as companies like Narrative Science refine their algorithms. And it’s remarkable that we’ve already reached a point where LAT readers can expect to encounter the phrase, “This post was written by an algorithm.” Just don’t expect the Quakebots of the world to provide human-level context or news judgment anytime soon, let alone a bon mot or a narrative yarn. It’s true that a lot of newspaper jobs are in danger, but that has nothing to do with news-writing robots. Blame that on a business model punctured by readers’ and advertisers’ move from print to the Internet.

If anything, helpers like Quakebot might save a few journalists’ jobs by freeing them to focus on the type of work that can only be done by a local reporter, on the ground, with a brain.

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