Wearing your politics on your WiFi →

"Do WiFi names speak louder than tweets?" A new OpenSignalMaps study asks just that.

James Robinson, an Android developer and one of the founders of OpenSignalMaps, was in Buenos Aires recently and looking for a WiFi connection when he noticed the names of three different politicians appearing as SSIDs (WiFi router names) nearby.

The discovery led him to wonder how common that was in the United States, and if that made more of a statement than a political tweet — especially given that the average lifespan of a tweet (hint: it’s short). After all, your WiFi router will show up to anyone with a device seeking a connection within a certain radius. Could this be the new age way of sticking an endorsement sign on your lawn?

Robinson used the OpenSignalMaps Android App to locate routers, and then created a custom Google Map to pinpoint instances where Obama’s name showed up in SSIDs. He then assigned value to them based on whether the reference was positive (ILoVeObAma!!), negative (Obamasux), or ambiguous (AIR_FORCE_ONE_OBAMA_EDITION) to color code them on the map. The result? A mash-up of colors in fairly predictable areas (Is anyone surprised by all the “NOBAMA” names popping up throughout the south?), and a final result tallying 401 positive SSIDs and 355 negative ones.

Robinson then expanded the experiment to outside of the U.S., and the result is surprising: in most countries searched (from Mexico to Saudi Arabia to France), there was “high Obama positivity.”

There is no “final conclusion” to Robinson’s study, but check out the map on OpenSignalMaps and infer what you will about the ways people express their political leanings. Have you expressed your politics through your WiFi router?

(msnbc.com: The Melissa Harris-Perry Show blog - June 15, 2012)