What is it?
A map of human emotions across time and location.
Why is it?
I want to understand human emotion. Partly because I find it so confusing, and partly because I feel it’s of the upmost importance to remember that while we all feel things to varying degrees and at different times, we ultimately feel the same things. Whether we want to admit it or not, we’re all of the same cloth. We’re unique, yet the same.
So, what does this have to do with my final project? I’d like to map emotions – I’d like to find a way to create a sense of unity by creating a platform that celebrates our sameness, without diminishing our uniqueness.
References and Inspiration
We Feel Fine
A stellar example of this – We Feel Fine by Sep Kamvar and Jonathan Harris.
What’s so effective about We Feel Fine is it’s ability to allow you, even for the briefest of moments, to inhabit someone else’s existence, to feel what they feel judgement free and with true sincerity. Sure it’s easy to find some of the data points a bit silly – like this one:
but even behind the poor grammar and the childish attitude you can feel their anxiety. It would be easy to take these posts and ridicule or mock, but through it’s beautiful visuals and interaction, We Feel Fine sidesteps these pitfalls and comes out as something utterly sincere.
A few other examples grappling with similar topics:
How do you feel, Helsinki?
A lab based out of the Netherlands (the Affect Lab) worked with IBM to create public kiosks throughout Helsinki which would take user inputted data to map how the city currently feels. This aligns very well with my initial vision for my project.
Aleph of Emotions
This project by Mithru Vigneshwara provides a tactile camera-like physical interface to ‘point’ the user’s focus. Data is pulled from Twitter based on the direction the user is pointing the camera and it attempts to categorize the feelings of the posts coming from that direction.
20 Day Stranger
This last example, while not remarkably similar to my own vision, provides an interesting way to address the idea of connectedness. A mobile app that allows two complete strangers to spend 20 days together, sharing their lives. A very interesting idea. It’s literally an attempt to see through someone else’s eyes. I chose this piece for inspiration because of it’s unique approach to fostering connectedness. It doesn’t just show you someone else’s life, it let’s you hang on for the ride in real-time.
So after a few days of prototype building, here’s what I’ve got:
The idea being that a visitor to the site can input how they’re feeling right this moment, after which they’re ‘node’ is added to the swarm. The visuals need some work, the emotions that the user can input need to be dialed in, and ideally I’d like the whole thing to be searchable. Each entry is saved in a database so it’d be possible to sort by time and location and only present that data to the user. Anyway, still a lot to figure out, and I’ve even been thinking about the idea of taking this whole thing 3D. Instead of these nodes floating around on a 2D plane, what if you could move through them in 3D space? In that case I could arrange these nodes based on relative position, and you could see them based on what direction and how far away they are from you. That might be a bit too much for this project, but worth thinking about.
- The list of available emotions comes from Robert Plutchik’s theory which breaks emotions up into 8 categories, like so:I’m wondering about people’s reaction to this list. What should change?
- Is the idea sound? Many projects like this pull data from social media, or other written media (articles, news sites, etc.). I chose to have people input their feelings directly rather than attempt to figure out their feeling based on something else (like their facebook posts or twitter feeds). I’m wondering what people think about this decision.
- Is the idea appealing? Would you use it? Initial reactions?