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April 15, 2007

Visualizing Human Feelings


We Feel Fine is the name of the project that gathers texts expressing human emotions from blogs. "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.)."

We Feel Fine aggregated a database of millions of human feelings that can be explored by restricting the view to several parameters like the age, gender, or the geographical location of the post author. In of the views (called "madness"), each feeling is represented by a colorful particle that moves around the screen.

"The Madness movement, with its network of many tiny colorful particles, was designed to echo the human world. Seen from afar, Madness presents a massive number of individual particles, each colored and sized uniquely, each flying wildly around the screen, proclaiming its own individuality. At this level, Madness presents a bird's eye view of humanity – like standing atop a skyscraper and peering down at the street. People bustle to and fro, darting in and out of shops, hailing taxis, falling in love, laughing, handling personal crises. From the skyscraper, the people below are like ants – their words cannot be heard, their facial features cannot be seen, and the notion of individuality is hard to recognize. At this level, each particle seems insignificant."

There's also a view that displays the most common feelings. Right now, they are: "I feel..." better, bad, good, right, guilty, sick, (the) same.

But the most interesting views are "Mobs" and "Metrics" that show the most representative feelings for a population (for example, men aged 20-29 from UK) or the most representative population for a feeling. The system shows that two times more women than men feel happy at the moment.

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