State Department putting UC Berkeley web visualization tool to work to gauge public opinion

Opinion Space website asks: What would you ask Hillary Clinton?

A year ago we wrote aboout a cool project at UC Berkeley called Opinion Space that visualized public opinion and how your thinking fits into the mix.

Now comes word that the State Department has embraced the technology and launched an Opinion Space site of its own, initially asking visitors to weigh in on a few foreign policy issues, such as climate change and nuclear weapons, and pose a question for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Like earlier systems from Berkeley Center for New Media, Opinion Space relies on a technology called collaborative filtering to plot your opinions against others' ideas. Collaborative filtering combines "continuous spatial models with statistical techniques (such as Principal Component Analysis) to efficiently represent gradations of input," according to the Opinion Space site.

The Web site gives a 3D sort of perspective on a user's opinions, depicting points of view as a constellation of stars glowing brighter or appearing nearer or farther depending on how alike or different they are.

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