James Surowiecki, author of The Wisdom of Çrowds focuses on Inkling client MediaPredict in this week's New Yorker.
Here's a snippet:
...Many people argue that it’s foolish to expect otherwise, and that no science of success is possible. In the famous words of the screenwriter William Goldman, “Nobody knows anything.” The fate of a book or a movie, the argument goes, is determined by too many factors to be predictable—advertising, reviews, word of mouth, luck, and, in the case of big hits, a simple desire to see what all the fuss is about. De Vany, for instance, says that the box-office performance of Hollywood films is “chaotic” in the mathematical sense of the term. Three Columbia sociologists recently found something similar in a series of online experiments in which people were divided into eight groups, asked to listen to songs by unknown artists, rate them, and then decide which ones they’d like to download—after being told how often others had downloaded the songs. The highest-rated songs, it turned out, were not always the most frequently downloaded. And in each group a different song ended up topping the charts. In the laboratory, at least, success appeared to be essentially random.
MediaPredict, however, is wagering that in the real world success is, at least in part, predictable, and it follows a model that, over the past decade, has proved surprisingly effective in forecasting a wide range of events: the prediction market...