Service set identifiers, or SSIDs, are essentially the network names that people give to their wireless networks. It turns out many Americans–and people across the world–are turning to SSIDs as a unique way to express their political sentiments. Much in the same way a yard sign pronounces to the world your political proclivities, so too can the naming of your SSID.

Researchers at Open Signal Maps used their database of 75 million geolocated routers to map Obama sentiment on a global scale. While this data is by no means representative, and clearly not everyone names their wireless networks according to their politics, it did reveal some interesting findings:

According to this eccentric measure of sentiment Obama is much more popular outside of the US than within. Why is this? It may be that Obama is genuinely more popular in the rest of the world but maybe it is because outside of the US people are less likely to express negative sentiments towards politicians in this manner….

The hardest part of this analysis was assigning sentiment values. It was immediately clear that even state of the art natural language software would be unable to parse “ObamaDaClown”, “ObamaPrezNaaaaw” or “Obamarama” let alone determine whether these reflect negative or positive sentiments. So we put the routers into Excel and went through them by hand. Even then there were some riddles, does “Obama_is_a_socialist” reflect negative sentiment? To many Europeans it would not, but in a US context (and this was a US router, indeed one of several with similar messages) we judged it a criticism.

To give it a test, I zoomed in on my part of the country. It seems like they got it pretty right, “Obama08,” “ObamaMama,” and “ILoVeObAma!!” were designated as pro.

“OBAMA SUCKS,” “Obama Bin Biden,” and “Obama_is_a_huge_clown,” and my personal favorite, “OMG-ObamaMustGO-Wake UP People!” as anti…

And “ObamaLlama,” “Obamaniqua,” and “AIR_FORCE_ONE_OBAMA_EDITION” as not sure.

If nothing else, this is inspiring me to get more creative with my own SSID “yard sign.” Look up your own neighborhood on the map here.

Any good ones out there among you?


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