Emotional Search in Web 3.0

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.

Microsoft’s Vision for the Future

Microsoft have released a new video suggesting they seek to reposition themselves over the next decade. I think they are on to something:

Their vision for the future is evidently very ambitious, but I believe that if anyone can pull this off, it’s them.

Microsoft’s approach has always been to create user experiences that are improved through exclusive use of Microsoft products. Sure, it’s got them in a  lot of trouble in the past, but it’s their corporate power and knowledge of how technologies (especially theirs) can work together that will best service the user through Ubiquitous Computing and Augmented Reality.

What’s especially interesting to me is that they really seem to have thought past their next release, Surface. It’s great to see something of their overall strategy. Something Apple, Google & Yahoo! are far less forthcoming with.

We are soon to have a Surface installed in the lobby at work. Really looking forward to it, but I’m concerned it’ll be too prescriptive in what it can be  used for. If Surface and any of the featured technologies in the above video suffer the marketing / usability failures of Vista it’ll be years more until these tools become a reality, at the hands of their competitors.

Will feedback on Surface once I’ve had a hands-on.

Web Discoveries for January 19th

These are my del.icio.us links for January 19th