We Feel Fine: Searching Emotions in Real Time

Jonathan Harris has launched his new project, The Whale Hunt, building on his use of the web as a medium for story telling.

I love Jonathan’s work, especially We Feel Fine.org.

In fact, I believe We Feel Fine has game changing potential as a next-generation data mining tool. The future possibilities of such technology are simultaneously frightening and exhilarating. Since We Feel Fine was intended as a piece of art I think the value of its technology and application have never been given due credit and I hope to change this!

Before reading further, I highly suggest playing with We Feel Fine and also listening to Jonathan’s Ted Talk where he explains his creation and its intended uses.

Next, consider a few facts: digital, non-verbal communications are growing exponentially (from Twitter to Facebook status updates to blog posts). In addition, people are embracing these forms of communication in droves and also becoming increasingly comfortable with exposing themselves in an unprotected and unrestricted manner. Search engines continue to index all these digital interactions, mining both data and emotions.

In essence, We Feel Fine is one of the most complex and sophisticated real-time search applications in existence. What it does is to offer a snapshot into the emotional state of groups of people, sortable by everything from geographical to gender.

To understand its potential, consider this scenario: A government uses a more sophisticated platform than We Feel Fine to harvest and data mine the emotional reaction of key demographics and regional populations to events such as terrorist attacks and/or political campaigns. Then using regression analysis to analyze the emotional state of said populations pre and post event, we have the data to create uber predictive models. These emotional models could then be used to strategically plan initial air strikes during a war, or to spin political announcements during particularly opportune times.

Scary and real all at the same time. I think there is much more to We Feel Fine than appears on the surface, hidden beneath its amazing flash and brilliant design. The question is: does anyone else see the same thing?

You might also enjoy my posts on Information Day Trading and Information Sifting. Also be sure to check out a use-case of We Feel Fine from the 2008 Presidential Race


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