Houston law professor behind papal prediction website

March 12, 2013 5:11:20 PM PDT
The Internet is helping million of people around the world follow the conclave. A Houston man has created website that allows you to pick a pope on your own.

This is the first papal conclave in the social media era and there have been many unique ways to get involved.

At first glance, this law professor and dog lover may not seem like the guy who knows a lot about predicting the next pope.

"The day the pope stepped down, I bought fantasypope.com and I built the site within the next two weeks," said Josh Blackman, the website's owner.

Blackman may be the go-to guy for pope predictions. With the help of a Catholic-leaning think thank, he selected the 16 cardinals most likely to be chosen as pope and built a simple website, where anyone around the world can rank and vote for their favorites.

"We have people from 200 countries. We had over almost 100 hits from Rome today, so can see people in Rome voting on this, this has gotten totally global," Blackman said.

Blackman isn't alone in using harnessing the power of crowd sourcing. All across the net, websites like Fantasy Conclave, Pope-Alarm, and even a bracket, called Suite Sistine, have popped up.

Besides websites, there are all sorts of apps you can download on your phone to keep track of the conclave, learn about the pope, even notify you, when the smoke turns white.

"I think it's interesting. I'm glad it brings the world's attention to the Catholic church, 1.2 billion Catholics can't be all wrong," parishioner Mike DeLaCruz said.

But some Catholics are more traditional when it comes to picking the next pontiff.

"We're just praying every day for whomever the pope will be," George Sims said.

So while most of the world's eyes will be on Rome, at least some will also be online, where Cardinal Peter Turkson is currently leading on the website developed by a Houston law professor.

"I'm a certified geek. I've been doing this for a long time and I love it," Blackman said.

In fact, there are more 1,000 votes from Australia alone.

If you're wondering how the professor came up with the idea, we'll he's been running a number of similar websites involving Supreme Court rulings, and they have a 75 percent accuracy rate.

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