WaPo has a good piece on corporations and blog monitoring. It’s a pretty good overview of companies using sophisticated tools to know what their customers are happy – and more importantly unhappy – with.
[Companies using Nielsen BuzzMetrics tools] can assess the tone of opinions by analyzing writing style and even individual words used. For example, if a blogger is discussing a new sport-utility vehicle and says he loves it but isn’t pleased with how it handles, the software is clever enough to score the posting as an overall positive with a negative on the handling.
When political parties catch on to this, life will get really interesting. They’re already looking at consumer behavior to determine voting tendencies. Once they figure out they can actually track voter attitudes without polls, and directly address the people’s complaints, they might do some good.