American in Spain

We Feel Fine

April 10, 2007

It may be narcissistic of me, but a few times a day, I check the recent referrers for my blog to see who is linking to me and what they searched for to find me. Sometimes I find really interesting websites. Yesterday, I found a truly mind-blowing website. It might be the single weirdest thing I've seen on the internet. You have to check this out!

Data Harvesting

They've written this program that searches the web for new blog posts, and searches each post for a sentence containing the phrase "I feel...". It then parses that sentence and categorizes how the poster is feeling. For some public blogging services, it will read the poster's profile to find out their age, gender, and location. And it cross references the location with the current weather at the time of the post.

So what you get is a huge database full of how different bloggers are feeling, where they are, how old they are, and what the weather is like where they are. So you can search for "women who are 30-39 years old, who feel alone where it's raining".

The Interface

The interface is a little overwhelming at first. There are thousands of little colored dots floating around. When you click on one, it will display the sentence containing the emotion and any picture that was with the blog post. Each color for the dots matches up to an emotion, and the shapes are whether or not there is a picture (pictures are rectangles).

But make sure you check out the other data views in the bottom left. I found the "Mounds" and "Mobs" views particularly interesting.

I tried a few times to find myself by filtering by Spain and my age and gender, but with no luck. Then, I removed the filters and started clicking on random dots, and somehow I actually found my post with the sentence, "I didn't feel like going for a walk in Laredo on Sunday afternoon." Amazing.


See how it knows me only as "someone". If I was blogging with blogspot or myspace, it would show my age and location, etc.

The cleverness of this system amazes me. It's a great idea, and it's really well done, with a superb user interface...even if it serves no useful purpose...