Analytics and Insights, Brussels, Corporate Culture, Data Science, European Parliament, European Union, Global Politics, Insights, Linguistics, Lobbying, machine intelligence, Politics, Public Affairs and Communications, U.S. Politics

OSINT One. Experts Zero.

Our traditional institutions, leaders, and experts have shown to be incapable of understanding and accounting for the multi – dimensionality and connectivity of systems and events. The rise of the far-right parties in Europe. The disillusionment of European Parliament elections as evidenced by voter turnout in 2009 and 2014 (despite spending more money than ever), the Brexit and now the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States of America.  In short, there is little reason to trust experts without multiple data streams to contextualize and back up their hypothesis.

How could experts get it wrong? Frankly, it’s time to shift out of the conventional ways that we try to make sense of events in the political, market and business domain. The first variable is reimagining information from a  cognitive linguistic  standpoint. Probably the most neglected area in all of business and politics – at least within the mainstream. The basic idea?  Words have meaning. Meaning generates beliefs. And beliefs create outcomes, which in turn can be quantified. The explosion of mass media, followed by identity driven media, followed by social media, and alternative media. We are at the mercy of media systems that frame our reality. If you doubt this, reference the charts below. Google trends is deadly accurate in illustrating what is on people’s mind the most, bad or good, wins – at least when it comes to U.S. presidential elections. The saying bad press is good press is quantified here. As is George Lakoff’s thinking on framing and repetition (Google search trends can be used to easily see which frame is winning BTW ).

google-search-trends-presidential-candidates-2004-to-present

Google search trends of Democrat and Republican presidential candidates going back from 2004 to 2016. The candidate with the highest search volume won in all political races.

Social media and news mentions of key 2016 presidential candidates. The query used was (

Social media and news mentions of key 2016 presidential candidates per hour within the  query used “Donald Trump” OR “Hillary Clinton” OR hashtags #ElectionDay OR #Election2016.

google-search-trends-nicolas-sarkozy-franc%cc%a7ois-fillon-alain-juppe

Google trends wasn’t caught off guard by François Fillon’s win over Nicolas Sarkozy and Alain Juppé in the French Republican primaries . It was closer than the polls expected all along.

Within this system, there is little reason to challenge one’s beliefs and almost nothing forcing anyone to question their own. Institutions and old media systems used to be able to bottleneck this, they were the only one with a soap box and information was reasonably slow enough. To outthink current systems there is a need for a combination of sharper thinking, being able to quantify unorthodox data such as open source intelligence (OSINT) and creativity that traditional systems of measurement and strategy lack. Business, markets, and people strive, to a fault, for simple, linear and binary solutions or answers. Unfortunately, complex systems i.e. the world we live in doesn’t dashboard into nice simple charts like the one below.  The root causes of issues are ignored, untested, nor contextualized, which creates only superficial understanding on what affects business initiatives.

linear-dashboard

A nice linear BI chart above. Unfortunately, the world is much more complex and connected – like the network graph below, which clusters together new media that covered Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump .

network-graph-of-news-media-about-donald-trump-hillary-clinton

I know this may feel like a reach in terms of how all that is mentioned is connected so more on OSINT, data, framing, information, outcomes, and markets to come.

Cheers, Chandler

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Analytics and Insights, Brussels, European Parliament, European Union, Global Politics, Insights, Politics, Social Media

European Union 2014 hash-tag engagement

Germany is without question the most powerful and important member state in the EU. Everything rides towards, through and with Berlin. With that in mind, and since Germans have been typically disengaged in EU Affairs, I decided to take a quick look at European Parliament election hash-tags (#EP2014, #EU14 and #EU2014) to see which member states are engaging and which ones are not.

A few years back I worked for the EPP Group, Europe’s largest political party. The future power of Germany was obvious at the time since it was right in the middle of the shit-storm of the Euro-crisis. I started to see how the EPP efforts to communicate with the Germans were going. I found out from an analysis of online media that Germans weren’t at all engaged with the EU or their MEPs. The French actually commented on German EPP MEP media more than the Germans. When it came to French EPP MEPs, Germany didn’t return the love. Who did? Believe it or not the people in the US, keeping a close eye on the global markets, accounted  for about 49% of French EPP MEP content comments. Who says US citizens are close-minded? I felt at the time, and still do, that comments were a pretty decent KPI to show some interest and engagement, especially since it took a bit more effort at the time – online and social media wasn’t as widely adopted. Below is the actual chart I showed my colleagues at the EPP about 3 years ago. This was prior to the “big data” hype machine.

French and German EPP MEPS: Comments to Media Out Put

Seeing the data, the EPP Group should have focused on changing this deficit in an aggressive, coordinated manner. You just can’t have a strong EU with out an engaged Germany.

Fast-forward 3 years. The EU Parliament elections are coming up. The EU institutions are being questioned, and referendums to withdraw have become focal points in the UK. And there’s  lots of money backing this idea. Is this completely because of a disengaged Germany? Not at all. Some of it is just  far-right jargon inherent to a bad economy which leaders actually have very little control over, but it still makes a big difference when the most powerful member state is apathetic and disengaged.

In present day 2014, not much has changed. Although hash-tags are probably not the most precise KPIs and leave a bit to be desired (I needed something quick), the data shows that in proportion to German MEP market share, Germany is still the most disengaged country when it comes to mentioning on EU election-specific hash-tags.  What was really telling was that the little country of Greece had just 62 less mentions than Germany, despite Germany being about seven times the size.  In fact, only five member states were a net positive (including Greece). Belgium  ranked first, obviously because Brussels is home to most of the EU institutions.  The “Brussels Bubble” is alive and well, even though this time it was supposed to be different.

EU Election Hashtag Member State Market Share

Hashtag MEP to Mention Deficit

In politics, getting people mad often drives engagement. This sometimes drives voting rates to the parties that many deem to be unreasonable (Vlaams Belang, Front National etc) . For example, we see Mr. Farage’s Euro skeptic party UKIP has utterly dominated communications compared to the other European Parliament political groups. This isn’t a good thing if you note that most of the time the winners have more mention volume . Surely Europe is stronger and more competitive together than it is fragmented. Nonetheless, if mainstream parties can’t even figure out how to communicate and run a proper campaign, why should they be trusted with leadership?

EP Group Market Share

These deficits could have and should have been addressed years ago. You could see them coming from miles away, yet those in power ignored the data or just made half-hearted and superficial efforts to save face. It’s not always easy to lead and no one expects it to be, but at some point you have to make bold moves, seek out candor and take a look in the mirror.

 

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Analytics and Insights, Brussels, Data Science, European Union, Global Politics, Insights, Politics, Public Affairs and Communications, Social Media, U.S. Politics

The German election and EU political communications

For this post, I decided to remain old school and mainly rely on search data. It’s pretty basic, but typically offers a great view of what people are interested in. Google’s market share is around 90% in Europe and it’s the most visited site in the world. In my opinion, Google Trends is the largest focus group in the world.

First I looked at the overall interest in Germany between Angela Merkel and Peer Steinbrück, as well as their political affiliations – the CDU and PSD. Initially, I was curious as to how party identity interest compared to interest in the politician. To anchor this chart I did the same with US presidential campaign (the chart below). I have a hunch, and the data seems to be telling me thus far, that the more media-oriented politics becomes (along with everything else in the world), the more important celebrity, authenticity, and individuality becomes. Take a look at this recent brand analysis done by Forbes. Chris Christie wins, having the highest approval rating of over 3,500 “brands” according to BAV (awesome company) at 78%. For those that don’t know, Christie is probably the most straight forward tell-it-like-it-is politician in the country.

So what can we learn from the Google search interest shown below?

Google search data of the 2013 German elections

Google search data of the 2013 German elections

Obama, McCain, Romney, Democrat and Republican search interest.

Obama, McCain, Romney, Democrat and Republican search interest.

  • Politics is still about sheer volume and name recognition. For those that think being novel and unique achieves victory over blasting away nonstop in a strategically framed and coordinated way, think again.  People tune out if they aren’t interested. Irrelevance is almost always worse than bad PR  or sentiment (excluding a case like Anthony Weiner). You simply don’t win if you don’t interest people. If people aren’t talking about you, you’re not interesting. Merkel had more search interest than Steinbrück and over the course of the year probably got 10,000 times more airtime, both good and bad, due to her large role in the euro crisis.  In short, repetition is king.
  • Framing and consistent language strategy is vital. Volume can be shown to equate with recognition of a person, but this can easily enough be analogized to a policy or issue. Give me a choice between a clever social media strategy or consistent language strategy, meaning all the key issues are repeated by the party and coordinated as much as possible, and I’ll take the language strategy any day. It’s amazing how just being consistent in political communications is overlooked by companies and political leaders in Europe. Social media tends to be a framing conduit, not the reason people mobilize or have opinions.
  • The world is growing ever more connected. Look at how global the reporting of the German election was. Obviously, its importance was higher due to Germany’s rising influence, but none the less the amount of sources from all over the world is impressive. A note for the upcoming EU elections: don’t forget to target the USA and other regions to influence specific regions in Europe. A German constituent might read about a policy from the Financial Times, a Frenchman the Wall Street Journal or an American based in Brussels, who knows Europeans who can vote, Bloomberg.

Location of sources reporting on German elections events/happeningsI decided to throw in Twitter market share of the candidates from August 21st to September 21st, the day prior to elections.  I found it interesting to see how closely Belgium and the United State reflect Germany, probably because these countries are looking at the elections from more of a spectator view. Meanwhile, southern Europe, which had a vested interest in the election, was pretty much aligned. France, Spain, and Italy seem to report a bit more, and in a similar way, on Merkel – probably due to sharing the same media sources. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to look into this pattern too much at the moment, but it’s something I’ll continue to think about in the future.

Market-share of Twitter for Germany Election candidates: USA,DE,BE

Market-share of Twitter for Germany Election candidates: USA,DE,BE,PT,FR,ES,IT

DE Elections Twitter market share south EU

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Analytics and Insights, Brussels, Data Science, European Parliament, European Union, Global Politics, Insights, Lobbying, Politics, Public Affairs and Communications, Social Media, U.S. Politics

Breakdown of TTIP and TAFTA

TTIP/TAFTA is a true game changer for both the EU and US in terms of economic value, especially in a time of crisis for the EU.  To find out exactly what content people consumed and analyze policy trends, we mined the web (big data). At the moment TTIP/TAFTA  is not being met without issues – as we all know in Brussels – #NSAGate, data privacy and IP are slowing down negotiations (we’re looking at you France), and this is generally what the data had to say as well.

Over view: 5,505 mentions of  TTIP/TAFTA in the last 100 days – too large of number for business and institutions to ignore. In short you need to join the conversation if you have something to say about it ASAP (indecision is a decision).

Overview of the last 100 days amplitude.

Overview of the last 100 days amplitude.

The biggest uptick – a total of 300 mentions – came when Obama spoke at the G-8 summit in Ireland on June 17th when trade talks began. The key theme at this time was the potential boost in the economy. The official press release is here.

“The London-based Centre for Economic Policy Research estimates a pact – to be known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – could boost the EU economy by 119 billion euros (101.2 billion pounds) a year, and the U.S. economy by 95 billion euros.However, a report commissioned by Germany’s non-profit Bertelsmann Foundation and published on Monday, said the United States may benefit more than Europe. A deal could increase GDP per capita in the United States by 13 percent over the long term but by only 5 percent on average for the European Union, the study found.”

Given that there is conflicting information we wanted to see whose idea and data wins out – the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) or Bertelsmann Foundation (BF)? To do this we looked to see which study was referenced most. The chart below shows the mentions of each organization within the TTIP/TAFTA conversation over the last 100 days. The Center for Economic Policy Research is in orange and the Bertelsmann Foundation is in green.

Research cited most for TAFTA and TTIP

In total both studies were cited almost the same amount:

  • Centre for Economic Policy Research: 80 Mentions
  • Bertelsmann Foundation: 83 mentions
  • Both organizations were mentioned together 53 Times.

More recently though the trend seems to show that the Economic Policy Research is being cited most in the last 30 days, including a large uptick on July 8th. This is mainly due to the market share of the sources being located more in the US and the US wanting to get a deal done faster than the more hesitant Europeans. Keep in mind the CEP claims larger benefits of TAFTA/TTIP than the BF study.

Locations of the Center for Economic Policy Research and the Bertelsmann Foundation. Very diverse and more equal location market share.

Locations of the Center for Economic Policy Research and the Bertelsmann Foundation in the last 30 days: Notice the location marketshare is less diverse and dominated by the USA.

Where are the mentions?

  • The  US had 2,743 mentions (49% overall)
  • All of Europe combined total was 1,986 (36% overall)

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Of the topics ACTA is still being talked about with, IP and Data Protection top the list. This is not surprising given France’s reluctance to be agreeable because of the former and #prism, so below are those themes plotted.

Breakdown and trend graph of Topics surrounding TTIP TAFTA

Breakdown and trend graph of Topics surrounding TTIP TAFTA

The top stories on Twitter are in the table below. It’s not surprising that the White House is number one, but where are the EU institutions and media on this?

Top Stories Tweets Retweets All Tweets Impressions
White House 37 15 52 197738
Huff Post  26 0 26 54419
Forbes  23 0 23 1950786
JD Supra 15 2 17 42304
Wilson Center  12 7 19 72424
Facebook 12 0 12 910
Italia Futura 8 0 8 16640
BFNA 7 0 7 40246
Citizen.org 7 13 20 69356
Slate  7 0 7 13927

Everybody knows the battle for hearts and minds of people starts with a good acronym so I broke down the market share between TTIP (165) and TAFTA (2197):

Acronym Market Share: TTIP V TAFTA

I may add more in the coming days but those are a few simple bits of info for now.  Nonetheless if you want to join the conversation on Twitter the top hashtags are below.

Top Hashtags for the TTIP and TAFTA debate

Top Hashtags for the TTIP and TAFTA debate

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Analytics and Insights, Brussels, Data Science, European Parliament, European Union, Global Politics, Insights, Politics, Social Media

A Quick look at 20,000 Tweets about the EU

From October 25 -> December 4th there were 20,022 Tweets Containing the words European Union, European Parliament and European Commission. This means tweets were quite specific and could not be mistaken for anything else, further of course the majority of posts were in English, although more than 30 languages were represented. Many of the quick findings reinforce numerous Social Network Analysis studies which show that most network opinions and frames are controlled by a minority of people – between 10-20% i.e.  elite level. Social media, despite a lot of hype, has not changed this.

Image

The context surrounding these 20K Tweets

  • Were produced by 13,832 accounts
  • Retweets made up 28% of all Tweets
  • The Top 18 Tweets – in terms of most retweeted, made up 9% of all tweets
  • Top 18 Tweets that made up 9% of all tweets were made by 11 accounts
  • The most visible and retweeted Tweet was a coalition with FC Barcelona (below) – ( This leaves me to question why are there not more collaborations between the public and private sector in the EU?)

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Top Accounts from Top 18 Tweets:

  • Wikileaks – 6 Tweets in Top 18 (33%)
  • Economist – 2 tweets in top 18 (11%)

Top Users commenting on the Euro. UKIP is seems to be taking a proactive approach to framing it’s primary fodder against the EU (the Euro Crisis).

  • @UKIP 32
  • @YanniKouts 23
  • @lindayueh 18
  • @AssangeC 9
  • @LSEpublicevents 8
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Brussels, European Parliament, European Union, Global Politics, Politics

Skeptical that more “training” will help the EU…

I saw a post on face book which read “the EU needs more entrepreneurship.  The plan is to offer more training”.. It got me thinking.

I run my own technology and communications consulting business with clients in BeLux and USA at 28 years old, I’m from the USA. I’ve consistently see the EU always aiming to train people as a solution to get itself out of the economic hardship it’s experiencing..

Education sure, great –  to some extent, but I’m not sold.. lower taxes – more cash on hand to spend on opportunities that pop up is essential, and less stress on those who are starting a business is key. 70% of wealth is inherited in BE for example, and I was further amazed to hear the horribly run government here has the audacity to decided if you are competent to run a business. As if it’s competent to decide anything itself, which it’s not. This is where EU federalism could step in, make things more liquid and really make a difference.

Further EU citizens must come to grips that in order to make aggressive progress there are inherent risks involved… back to EDU – I’m skeptical that institutions can provide any relevant training – especially in Europe which is is run by institutions. Nothing here has really been created and perfected on globally competitive level for years in new fields – not one EU tech company is in the top 10 for example. Nokia is 13 and failing harder and harder as the world/business moves faster and faster. Perhaps that is chance, but perhaps EU society is not well equipped to deal with the adversity and speed of modern business because it rely so heavily on ingrained “training, education” which has created a lot of over head  and diluted what the word talent actually means , being educated or being really good at something are  more often than not different.  When I see “According to the plan” is part of the idea – and as a business owner knowing plans never go according to plan. A focus on knowledge management and handling adversity is key, but very difficult to create a curriculum, it needs to be ingrained in the culture of progress and risk is fun, don’t look back.

In general entrepreneurs such as myself carry a bit of disdain for institutional process and tradition, something tightly ingrained in European culture. All the great modern, dynamic companies were basically and for the most part built by institutional dropouts, failures or pure genius which never had a need for them. In France your career track and whether you go to HEC or ScPo is decided at 10 or so years old. Think of the opportunity loss on intellectual capital, for what in general is a partially false knowledge system propped up by a robust, far reaching institutional system. For any federal system such as the EU, that has aspiration of being reverent/competitive on the global level this should be considered unacceptable. Nonetheless this outlook is perpetuated in EU society. The first thing I’m asked after I explain what I do is where was I educated, as if it matters, I learned nothing from education that I do now – I run my business off my own Ideas not others – this is how business grow/succeed, not repeating and learning from the very people, ideas, and institutions that created the problems in the first place. Take a look at the past, take what is needed,continuously improve and prove your own ideas wrong. Never settle.

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Global Politics, Linguistics, Politics, Public Affairs and Communications, U.S. Politics

Thoughts on the election

Obama gets a lot of  blame for the economy – which is the main argument/premise. None the less. Bush was in office when the stock market crashed and the GOP controlled both the senate and house the majority of the time leading up to the crash. It wasn’t just the US that went through crisis – every nation did no matter what type of government they ran – communist, socialist, free market (many eastern EU states).
 Both parties voted for the bail outs. And fortunately we are improving.
My thinking is I’m not convinced a government or anyone for that matter really has that much control over any of it.. Other wise why did it happen in the first place?
Obama is not socialist. Go to Germany, Greece, Denmark or  the Richest country on earth – Norway, if you want to see what that really is..It can be a good and bad thing. I run a US company that deals a lot in Europe and have done a decent amount of business. I must state that I do not feel the “crushing burden of socialism”  as I’ve heard from those in the USA – and who probably have  less complex legal/tax issues that are inherently involved with doing international business. If you want to see what real problems are, come to Belgium and try and start a company dealing with their BS admin procedures ( something I get to avoid because I have a US company).
Why every Romney supporter feels Obama is the worst person in the world:
In the last four years communications have increased ten fold and created a perception of us and them. This in turn physically effects our brains frame – which is directly how you view the world and political positions. For example you think you are 100% right and the issue is 100% clear, but a democrat feels just as correct about believing the exact opposite.
While you feel divided, different and apart from a liberal or conservative, the fact is you agree on 95% of things – you can both love dogs, like sports, think people should not kill or steal from each other… Now a Political strategist job is to make you think the 5% of things you don’t agree on are the biggest fucking problems in the world.
In actuality we have never been more aligned politically, while feeling further apart. This polarization is  both good and bad. And a heavily debated topic among political scientist. For one it get’s people to understand complicated  issues (good). Two it brings people to the polls (good). The big “what if”,  is grid lock and the tipping point between facts and perceptions. At some point policy does have consequence – both good and bad, and some are better than others.
Romney or Obama. Not much would have changed. But as I say, who wins deserves it. In this case the Obama campaign was smarter and better than Romney’s. And that’s exactly who I want to lead the country.
Any how historically the next election should go to a Republican.
– CT
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