Following my outlining of Web 2.0 ideas for the ABC on Counterpoint, innovator and entrepreneur Ralph McKay got in touch with me to tell me of his own efforts to develop online opinion markets. These are interesting because they’re not principally prediction markets. They’re devices to elicit the opinions of large numbers of people using the net. Elections do this of course, but in a less flexible way than the online opinion markets that one can develop on the net – where people can change the questions being asked and so on.
Ralph argues that his site BigPulse offers new possibilities in discovering and expressing the opinions of large numbers of people. My suspicion is that this won’t work on a very large scale in society – because only the blow hards will be interested. But it could work well for well defined organisations in which people recognise themselves as having a stake. Ralph says that he thought of associations when he designed the system but associations tend not to be interested in orchestrating the interests/opinions of their members – at least where they might threaten those of their officials. Perhaps the same applies to unions. Anyway, he says that companies are a good market. Or I think that’s what he said in a brief phone conversation with me.
But the thing that really looked promising was a similar system for tackling bullying, which has been trialled with some success in some schools.