The broad goal of this article was to shed light on the value of seemingly meaningless studies performed by the National Science Foundation (NSF), a few of which I found particularly interesting…
The first section mentioned was ‘Does playing FarmVille on Facebook help people make friends and keep them?‘ While inconsequential on the surface (who hasn’t deleted an annoying Farmville request without a second thought?), one study by the NSF (that had $315,000 in funding) found that “relationships that would otherwise have been “left stale” were actually built up through the game. Imagine how this information can transform the lives of people with physical and mental disabilities preventing them from taking part in real-life interaction”.
The other section of interest to me asked ‘Can Twitter predict the stock market?’ This was a little bit juicier, as it could have huge economic implications. The “NSF spent $25,000 to find that in fact, “measuring the collective public mood by analyzing millions of tweets can predict the rise and fall of the stock market up to a week in advance with up to 90% accuracy”. Just look at what social media does without us even realizing!