We Feel Fine

We Feel Fine is "an exploration of human emotion on a global scale." The site, created by Brooklyn-based artist Jonathan Harris and Stanford computational math professor and former Google employee Sep Kamvar, looks like exactly the result of these two min

Gino Rossi

We Feel Fine is “an exploration of human emotion on a global scale.” The site, created by Brooklyn-based artist Jonathan Harris and Stanford computational math professor and former Google employee Sep Kamvar, looks like exactly the result of these two minds combined: emotional data mining with a human touch and an artistic interface -- a particularly beautiful application of moodgraphics.

The site is driven by a huge database that browses the web for emotional expressions around the globe and maps them graphically: “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.).”

The result is a recording of several million human feelings, increasing by 15,000 to 20,000 new feelings per day. Sounds Orwellian but it is actually pretty touching. Like the congenial PostSecret, We Feel Fine provides viewers with a voyeuristic act in mutual consent. Seeing other people’s feelings is emotional; seeing other people describe their feelings is comforting.

Since it launched in 2006, the site has been written up exhaustively. The Pop!Tech blog (hat tip) recently rediscovered it -- in the light of the strong collective emotions around Obama’s election and the rise of the new We Generation, “what we feel” is suddenly back on the map again.

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About the author

    Tim Leberecht is Frog Design's chief marketing officer. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET.

     

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