Friday, February 02, 2007

Game Friday: I Feel... Connected?

Okay, not quite a game, but a lovely visualization: We Feel Fine. This application pulls "I feel..." statements from thousands of English-language blogs all over the world and maps them in several beautiful ways. According to the creators' mission statement:

At its core, We Feel Fine is an artwork authored by everyone. It will grow and change as we grow and change, reflecting what's on our blogs, what's in our hearts, what's in our minds. We hope it makes the world seem a little smaller, and we hope it helps people see beauty in the everyday ups and downs of life.

You can sort by feeling, age range, gender, even the weather. You can compare the most frequently cited feelings in the last few hours across different metrics. You can follow the swirling dots of feeling or just let the words scroll by. I'd love to see this in a museum with Jeff Han's touch technology--the thoughts and feelings of all kinds of visitors, grouped in all kinds of ways.

As a work of art, We Feel Fine is delightful. As a symbol of what kind of personal information can be gleaned automatically from the web, it's both dazzling and frightening. Each quote is pulled from a blog, and with one click you can move from the application to the blog of origin. Talk about primary sources...

But how useful is it? This is another example of an application (like the Hope Garden) that DOES make the world seem a little smaller, but beyond that, there's not a lot of depth to the experience. Huh. That 82 year old woman in London had a lousy day. The college student in Maryland feels ambivalent. The various movements on We Feel Fine give me different ways to see the data, but there's no window into deeper connections and meanings. The Findings page is just numbers. To me, this is low on the emotional/social learning/touching/feeling totem pole.

Or maybe it's just the first step. Making all this data accessible--and growable--can enable the next group of people to take it to the next level. Social connections? Meaning with a capital M? Where would you take it?

2 comments, add yours!:

Anonymous said...

Might be interesting to look at the world mood on certain special or memorial dates, e.g. 9/11/06 or Christmas, but I agree: not so useful, but nice as art.

Rather tricky/clunky interface.

Might make an interesting search engine front-end? Dot-com I used to work for was involved in making visual search engines and navigable neural nets. Reminds of that, but more interactive. With more bandwidth, I imagine it'd be faster and more up-to-date, yeah?

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of capturing the mood of a certain moment.

wefeelfine is not an artwork I'd visit often or again even, but it does spark something within me. It's true, it's not useful but I guess that's not the purpose of art. As you say Nina it will probably inform the next level.