08 Jun

Futures Market for Meme Emergence?

You think a meme is going to emerge, or some until-now obscure location or rock band is about to have a burst of popularity. Is there a site where you can bet on such predictions, say, if you think everyone is going to talk about deflation (a good bet to make 18 months ago), or, to be more timely, Franz Ferdinand or Ras Tanura? For more fun, try to predict when the meme is going to start spreading and when it will peak.
Think of it as Blogshares and Hollywood Stock Exchange meet Technorati and Google Zeitgeist. Then people with a good sniff for talent or a rare ability to predict political events might emerge. The idea sounds familiar so maybe I’ve actually seen this somewhere, then please refresh my memory. Or maybe I already posted this and I’m just in a rut.
OK, I should stop being lazy. Let’s invoke the power of the web… No wonder it sounded familiar, the Extropians already did it years ago (I define myself as an extropian when I want to sound mystical, if I was available I’m sure I could pick up chicks with this) and of course there was the spat about Darpa’s short-lived Policy Analysis Market last summer. I guess I’m thinking of something a little funnier that intertwines gracefully with the blogosphere.
12/30/04 update: Media Mammon "is like a stock market of news, memes and hypes."
02/06/06 update: The Rise of the Memetrackers.

4 thoughts on “Futures Market for Meme Emergence?

  1. Cool idea!
    Some of us at HSX have thought about building a buzz-type exchange. The idea would be for some traders to buy shares associated with a word group in a pre-ipo market. Venture capitalists would buy into a risky, unknown word group such as “costume malfunction”, for example. Once the word group becomes mentioned enough, it would would IPO and stay on the market for a certain amount of time.
    The key is determining how the data underlier would work — how the price would ultimately mirror the real-world.
    The development focus lately has been on making it easier to roll out new exchange concepts. Ideas such as a meme exchange are soon going to be easier to build using the HSX Virtual Specialist.
    – JP

  2. Thanks Jamie, I didn’t know about HSX Virtual Specialist:
    http://www.hsx.com/virtualspec/
    I’ve not thought too much about the differences between a futures market and a stock exchange, but the later seems less appropriate in this case in the sense than most memes (almost by definition) have a limited shelf life. In other words, when you’re betting on a prediction, once the event happens, acquiring the prediction becomes worthless. But I’m sure you guys know this inside out. Heh, maybe your analogy with VCs and IPOs was meant as a jibe!
    As to how to assess value in relation with the real world (since there’s no official box office of memes), I guess Technorati, Google, and Google News might be good sources to tap, though Google News doesn’t have an API (yet?). Technorati might itself be a good predictor of future Google popularity (sort of a Series B round on the way to a future IPO).
    I’ve just found this blog that, amazingly, has been launched today:
    http://informationfuturesmarkets.blogspot.com/

  3. That blog you mentioned at informationfuturesmarkets.blogspot.com is really awesome. Lots and lots of links dealing with this concept of a market of “intangibles” like ideas and information. In a way, Enron was doing something similar in that they had a “market” where the commodity was the risk associated with energy prices. Of course, that didn’t turn out so well but mostly because of other reasons not related to the concept itself. Someday it will be done right and these types of markets will be as commonplace as the stock market is today.

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