09/11/2009 12:59 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Crowdsourcing and the next Netflix Prize

An interesting development on the polling front: Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling is open-sourcing his polls. Yesterday he asked for suggestions on which state to poll next and posted a draft questionnaire for Joe Wilson's district for comment.

This approach, which I think is brilliant, raises a more general question: where's the innovation in content creation among political organizations? Beyond, very few organizations in politics take advantage of the creativity and intelligence of their supporters.

Along similar lines, why doesn't a political organization like one of the major parties offer up some money in a competition to, say, predict who will respond favorably to solicitations for money, votes, etc. using anonymized data? The Netflix Prize, which will be awarded on the 21st, drew a vast amount of effort from the machine learning community, and there's now a company that will provide infrastructure for similar contests. Who's going to be the innovator?

(Cross-posted to