In July, KDNuggets.com, an online newsite focused on data mining and analytics software, ran an unusual listing in its jobs section:
“We are looking for Predictive Modeling/Data Mining Scientists and Analysts, at both the senior and junior level, to join our department through November 2012 at our Chicago Headquarters,” read the ad. “We are a multi-disciplinary team of statisticians, predictive modelers, data mining experts, mathematicians, software developers, general analysts and organizers – all striving for a single goal: re-electing President Obama.”
Users of the Obama 2012 – Are You In? app are not only giving the campaign personal data like their name, gender, birthday, current city, religion and political views, they are sharing their list of friends and information those friends share, like their birthday, current city, religion and political views. As Facebook is now offering the geo-targeting of ads down to ZIP code, this kind of fine-grained information is invaluable.
Inside the Obama operation, his staff members are using a powerful social networking tool called NationalField, which enables everyone to share what they are working on. Modeled on Facebook, the tool connects all levels of staff to the information they are gathering as they work on tasks like signing up volunteers, knocking on doors, identifying likely voters and dealing with problems. Managers can set goals for field organizers — number of calls made, number of doors knocked — and see, in real time, how people are doing against all kinds of metrics.