March 15, 2005

Yahoo! Research and O’Reilly roll out a prediction market in buzz

Prediction Markets By: ams

David Pennock‘s fascinating dynamic pari-mutuel market mechanism has finally surfaced in a public prediction market, TechBuzz. It’s a tournament co-sponsored by O’Reilly & Associates to predict future share of search query terms across ~100 “geek buzzwords.”

It was launched during a session on “From the Labs” by YRL director Gary Flake (Ph.D., as he puts it :-). He described the mission of their 30+ staffers as a “hedged portfolio” of long/short, basic/applied, platform/prototype balancing while publishing and collaborating as openly as possible. He quickly summarized our mechanisms for calculating opinions:

  1. asking a single person;
  2. asking a single expert;
  3. asking an aggregate of people (voting);
  4. asking an aggregate of experts (electoral college/representative democracy);
  5. and ultimately, aggregating prediction by performance: markets.

They’ve done a great job of working with NewsFutures to skin a custom version of their UI that looks very Yahoo!-style, clear and clean. I con only suppose the performance problems are due to the overloaded wireless at O’Reilly’s Emerging Tech confab where this was launched today; and the fervent trading by the audience members. [I, for one, am up nearly $200 betting on my favorite technologies: Syndic8 and HDTivo, and one bargain-hunting bet on JOTS — and already hammered out of the top-10 by folks with far more bradding rights like Zawodny and some thousand-aire named “plasticbag” :-]

Yahoo! Research Labs: The Tech Buzz Game is a fantasy prediction market for high-tech products, concepts, and trends. As a player, your goal is to predict how popular various technologies will be in the future. Popularity or buzz is measured by Yahoo! Search frequency over time. Predictions are made by buying virtual stock in the products or technologies you believe will succeed, and selling stock in the technologies you think will flop. In other words, you “put your play money where your mouth is.”

Example:
1. You’re bullish on podcasting; you buy shares of PODCAST stock
2. Britney announces her next single will be delivered exclusively via podcast
3. Curious tweens everywhere flood Yahoo! with searches about podcasting
4. Your shares skyrocket; you make a bundle

As a technology enthusiast, use the Tech Buzz Game as a window into community sentiment about the future of technology.

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