Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

We Feel Fine

“Why do I feel most alive when I am working myself to death?”

“I feel like I am missing some pieces of the puzzle.”

“I don’t even feel 39.”


Since August 2005, We Feel Fine has been harvesting human feelings from a large number of weblogs at LiveJournal. 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 interface to this data is a self-organizing particle system, where each particle represents a single feeling posted by a single individual. The particles’ properties – color, size, shape, opacity – indicate the nature of the feeling inside, and any particle can be clicked to reveal the full sentence or photograph it contains. The quote can then be clicked to go back to the blog entry where it originally appeared.

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? What are the most representative feelings of female New Yorkers in their 20s? What do people feel right now in Baghdad? What were people feeling on Valentine’s Day? Which are the happiest cities in the world? The saddest? And so on.

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Comments

  1. #1 Joe
    July 26, 2006

    whoa, that’s pretty amazing.

  2. #2 Katherine Sharpe
    July 27, 2006

    Phenomenal.

  3. #3 coturnix
    July 28, 2006

    Pretty amazing! This reminds me…have you seen Moodgrapher?

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