I urge you to go and check out We Feel Fine, a flash applet that scours the Interwebs not for keywords you’ve chosen, but from a huge array of predefined emotions.
The result is a staggering visualisation of current states-of-mind across various social media sources, from feeling ‘angsty’ to ‘fine’ (of course) and through to ‘zealous’. Seriously, one cannot underplay the significance I feel this holds, as the way it comes across in its black and #ff005d imagery places monumental power behind the little dots and abstract shapes, each representing a different feeling, and crucially a different person. Allow me to elucidate…
Logging on you’ll start in an ocean of multicoloured shapes and colours. Mousing over will freeze the surrounding area allowing you to pick out a certain point – a label appears signifying the attached emotion. A click on that point shows the sentence or image that the target emotion is connected to. A further click takes you away to that content’s permalink somewhere on the web. Immediately, at least to me, the significance of web browsing via emotional state is felt for the first time.
Jonathan Harris, digital artist behind WeFeelFine along with information architect Sep Kamvar, has set upon a series of projects intended to exploit our increasing hyperconnectivity, and present back to us the visual representation of our online ongoings. Check out this video from coolhunting on the etymology of the project below:
As a member of the ad industry, I am excited by the potential to target users by their emotional state via WeFeelFine, or by Adrian Veidt-style trendspotting via Universe.
Conversely, as a member of the Open Web culture I know that this is art and should remain so. Let’s not sully this by exploiting human weakness, rather use it as a reminder of those core abilities the web and our hyperconnectivity to it can show us, and what we can learn from it.
That’s the true definition of good art, in my opinion.