Lindsay Olson

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Understanding online human emotion

I really enjoyed this talk by Jonathan Harris about his projects to understand human emotion over the internet. He discusses his three projects: We Feel Fine, Yahoo Time Capsule Austin Powers in Goldmember full movie Bee Season move Herbie Rides Again ipod and Universe.

His project, We Feel Fine, scans new blog entries for "I feel" or "I am feeling" statements and records the sentence. It then categorizes its findings by feeling and notes the geographic location, the gender of the writer, the age, etc.

From the We Feel Fine mission statement:

"The result is a database of several million human feelings, increasing by 15,000 - 20,000 new feelings per day. Using a series of playful interfaces, the feelings can be searched and sorted across a number of demographic slices, offering responses to specific questions like: do Europeans feel sad more often than Americans? Do women feel fat more often than men? Does rainy weather affect how we feel? What are the most representative feelings of female New Yorkers in their 20s? What do people feel right now in Baghdad? What were people feeling on Valentine's Day? Which are the happiest cities in the world? The saddest? And so on."

This project is a very interesting idea, but I think it's a bit narrow-minded to say this is how the world is feeling. There are so many people in the world who still don't use the computers and not all of us self-publish. The data for this project is pulled from English

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language blogs and it excludes how bloggers are feeling who write in Mandarin, Spanish, French, German, Arabic, or any of the 6,700 living languages in the world.

The idea though is fascinating and I'm excited to see what else Jonathan has up his sleeve.


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