Seems like almost every day there is a new way to gather consumer info from various networks in almost real time. I recently wrote below how Brandon Geary from Razorfish shared some of his tricks using photo-sharing sites to gather info on and illustrate consumer behavior at the planning conference in San Diego. And lots of planners I know have been using FaceBook informally to get a quick read on a population or a consumer trend.
But, as one of my staff recently pointed out, FB now has their own polling tool that lets you do a quick survey of 1,000 people, incentivizing them with amounts as little 25 cents. You can custom-design the questions and do some selection of the respondents by age, location, sex and interest.
More cool still, and all the talk among fb enthusiasts (here and here), is the Socialistics application which allows you to measure, chart and graph just about any detail of the friends in your network. Fb'ers with large networks seem to be discovering surprising things about their communities.
Another example of how a new way to present the same data can surprise and delight.