Sentiment analysis – a report on a Text Analytics Meetup, London

I’m currently working on the scope of the 2nd edition of ‘Enterprise Search’ and am aware of the very blurred boundary between search and text analytics. Sentiment analysis is a good example. A search application could locate references to specific products in a repository of call centre transcripts but would not be able to indicate whether over time customers were more positive about the performance of the product, to use a very simplistic example. This is where sentiment analysis (sometimes referred to as ‘opinion mining’) has a very important role to play.

Yesterday over 80 attendees listened to two excellent presentations on sentiment analysis at a meeting of the London Text Analytics Meetup Group, sponsored by UXLabs. After excellent refreshments courtesy of the Financial Times, the first speaker was Despo Georgiou, currently a Business Consultant at Atos SE. Her recent MSc dissertation at City University was an examination of the value of two commercial sentiment analysis applications (Semantria and TheySay) and two non-commercial applications (Google Prediction API and WEKA) in analysing documents from the health care sector. This was a very good general introduction on how to conduct application assessments.

She was followed by Dr. Diana Maynard, a Research Fellow in the Computer Science department of Sheffield University. Diane talked mainly about sentiment analysis applied to social media but in a concluding Q&A session proved able to provide a tremendous amount of insight into all aspects of sentiment analysis. Do take a look at Diane’s blog!

For me it was a very valuable meeting and put a lot of fragmented knowledge I have of this area into context. It was the 13th meeting of the Text Analytics Meetup but the first I had attended as a member, and I am looking forward to future meetings. If you want to know more about sentiment analysis a good place to start is to download both the short book on Sentiment Analysis and Opinion Mining by Bing Liu and a recent paper by Eric Cambria on New Avenues in Opinion Mining and Sentiment Analysis.

Martin White