Politicians in Australia and probably in other parts of the world as well place great emphasis on popular opinions. I will not be surprised if these politicians have experts dedicated to the analysis and prediction of voters’ moods and intentions. Thanks to the popularizaton of online social networking, there are now free online tools in which common folks like you and I can employ to sense the current political sentiments.

For example, we are able to see what netizens are currently talking about Julia Gillard.

Anyone engaging in online social networking needs to be aware that what he/she is saying can be picked up by unintended audience.

The following tool, developed by Microsoft, shows the associations between tweeted words. For example, it can be used to show which other words are currently being used in greater frequency with “Julia Gillard”. As we can see, Julia Gillard is associated with Anna Bligh during the disasters caused by Queensland floods and Cyclone Tracy.

All these applications are part of the development of Contextual Discovery or “Search with searching”, employing personal and social data and preferences, with the aim of alerting and recommending users to services, venues, events and happenings, particularly in a local context. Google and other IT companies are attempting to “push information to people” based on their locations and what they are doing.

Politicians, celebrities and organizations are making extensive use of Twitter for publicity, marketing, media exposure and dissemination of information. The tweets of Julia Gillard are shown below.