Wednesday, October 10, 2007

We Feel Fine.

Those that are close to me know that one of my favorite web destinations is the TED site (especially since they started posting videos of the various presentations over a year ago). I think I originally learned about TED a few years ago via John Chandler's stellar blogging and have admired it ever since.

Anyway, the latest presentation** that I viewed was given by Jonathan Harris on his project titled We Feel Fine. This melding of art + digital programming + humanity really captured me. I found the thought-process behind it all and the dynamic results simply beautiful (...not to mention Harris's incredible knack for minimalist asthetic).

This from the Mission of the project:
Since August 2005, We Feel Fine has been harvesting human feelings from a large number of weblogs. Every few minutes, the system searches the world's newly posted blog entries for occurrences of the phrases "I feel" and "I am feeling". When it finds such a phrase, it records the full sentence, up to the period, and identifies the "feeling" expressed in that sentence (e.g. sad, happy, depressed, etc.).

Because blogs are structured in largely standard ways, the age, gender, and geographical location of the author can often be extracted and saved along with the sentence, as can the local weather conditions at the time the sentence was written. All of this information is saved. 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?...

Since starting in 2005, they've collected nearly 9,000,000 feelings from almost 2,000,000 unique individuals all over the globe. I encourage you to check it out, and spend some time rolling around with other peoples' emotions. It effectively erases physical and social barriers, and I think there's great value in that.

Ok, so let's see if I can get my feelings pulled into the We Feel Fine project:
I am feeling a lot of tension when I think about how to follow the ways of Jesus in the American suburbs (but that's a subject for a separate post...).

**If you have a spare 17 minutes, below is the Harris presentation (he explains his projects far more interestingly than I have...):


1 comment:

john chandler said...

stellar? you are far too kind

I guess I should read my own blog...I don't even remember link to this site, so thanks for bringing it back to the surface. :)