Monday, November 9, 2009

And How Are We Feeling Today? was developed by Jonathan Harris and Sep Kamvar to monitor the emotions of internet users in realtime. The result of this ambitious plan is the single most beautiful website I've ever used.

We Feel Fine harvests bloggers' emotions by searching thousands of blogs for the keywords "I feel" or "I am feeling". The website then pulls whole sentences containing those keywords from their original posts and sends them to a central location. The feelings gleaned are categorized ('happy,' 'bad', 'better', etc.), then tagged with a number of other variables, including the writer's gender, age, location, and weather at the time of posting. That's a buttload of information (buttload=technical term).

The information gathered on the site can be accessed in six different movements, but my favorite, 'Madness', is pictured below:

Each of the colored dots represent a different feeling. The longer the sentence, the bigger the dot. They're colored-coded according to type, but in Madness mode it's almost impossible to control what kind of feeling you're clicking on. The tiny dots zoom and carom around the screen. Some of them are curious, clustering by your cursor or in the bottom corner. Once you manage to corral a feeling, they're usually pretty emo, as in the feeling above. Still, the ability to listen in on the emotions of thousands people who have no idea anyone's paying attention is a pretty powerful thing.

Take some time to play around with this website, to change the settings, filter the responses, click on pictures and try different movements. You'll feel glad that you did.

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