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How does Justin Timberlake know what’s cool?

I thought I had heard it all, that is, until I discovered this session on ‘Coolhunting’ during my time at SXSW. Let’s just say, I wish this science was something they taught in high school. It sure seems to beat out chemistry, and I am almost positive it would have gotten me a ticket into the cool crowd instead of the science geeks.

So, what exactly is this latest science? Coolhunting is the art of combining data mining with social interaction heat maps to find 'cool' trends. Apparently even celebrities, like Justin Timberlake, have discovered this ‘science of cool’ and are using it to their advantage. In fact, Justin even hired a team of scientists to help him capitalize on trends and raise his ‘coolness’ profile.

This same methodology can also be used to find trend setters. In the hunt for influencers, it’s important to note that 1 or 2 people are always the 'nodes', aka ‘new trend setters', that kickoff a viral trend — Everyone else is an additive. So, how do you find these trend setters? Peter Gloor, from the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence, is working to make a science out of it. According to Peter, collective intelligence is becoming more and more apparent in the universe. By mining this intelligence and combining it with social media, we can find influencers, and in turn, find trends early in the cycle.

In a world where 90% of all data  has been generated in the last 2 years and continues to accelerate, data mining is a science that is paying off in huge dividends.  Businesses that can manage to leverage social analytics and data mining will clearly have a higher competitive advantage. They will become the cool new ‘nodes’ for trends.

You have to admit… pretty cool!