written/non-written things by me (from 2005-2008)

Saturday, July 29, 2006

I feel validated! Please, find me We Feel Fine!

"It's a bit like sending radio waves into outer space, like there is no expectation that someone will respond, but there is the slight hope that keeps you beaming things out. Why else would one do it, right? But then time trods on and you forget that hope." After having just typed this sentence about blogging in an email to a special person I haven't heard from, or written to, hardly ever since coming to China, I stopped. I left the email unfinished, and unsent, it was turning into a letter I didn't really want to send, into a letter that made me feel sad and pitying just typing it, and I didn't even know if what I wrote was true to how I felt, out of touch with everything and everyone. I went to take a shower and I started to cry just a little. Then I caught myself in the mirror (it's a small bathroom). I frooze my expression just to see what it looked liked when I cried. My faced was a little squished, eyebrows sunken, nostrals astride, comically sad, like a child whose fallen and having belatedly realized it supposes it should cry, then forms its face as such, then automatically the tears begin to roll as if it were just a matter facial configuration, what happens when the face is like this. Then I felt like I was in a pathetic student art film about a wayward girl in big strange city. Then I thought "That's dumb. Stop it... I wonder if the new episode of Theory of Everything is up yet." I dried up went back to the computer. It was. I listened, I looked, I linked, to this "We Feel Fine" And now I feel oddly validated for expressing myself in this media, like the hope to be found and heard is not so extraterrestiral.. This is no doubt one of the most beautiful and fascintating pieces of art and technology I have ever seen/used in my life. It's everything I love about the potential of art and analytics to reflect, bring together, and lend validity to the feelings that we (I) too often leave unsent. Hoping to be heard.

I know you will love it, too. It's worth your time to see what we're capable of doing with this wily experiment called the Internet. The application "mines" the entire internet, or at least it's vast global network of blogs, for the word feel. Then it gathers information about that person's location, gender, age, information that is typically displayed somewhere on a personal blog. Then it plucks that sentence containing the word feel and assigns it a shape and color. It is a circle if it is a just text and square if the sentence is accompanied by a photograph. Colors correspond to thousands of adjectives for emotions. The little packet is then spewed out onto a flying universe of other little packets containing their own feelings. Click on a little colored shape and the quote from the blog, and sometimes a photograph arrive on the screen. Click on the quote and you are taken directly to that blog. The We Feel Fine application continues to baffle and amaze as it can sort and search this data by a multitude of variables such as country, state, city, gender, age, individual emotion and even the weather at the time the particualr blog was posted. So you can ask questions like, "How many 20-something women in Beijing posted about feeling validated when it was cloudy outside?" The movements: madness, murmurs, mobs, metrics, montage, mounds at the bottom of the screen allow the user to play with way this data can be analyzed and displayed. The feelings scramble and coalesce and scramble again in a lovable way over the black space-like field. It's funny and incredible. Please, Please, click on the above image, then click again on "Open We Feel Fine", then wait for it to load, look at it, and play with it. And keep in mind, it's all true, these are real people and it's all happening right now! Listen to this week's Benjamin Walker's** Theory of Everything for the project's explanation.

**He does it again!

My name is Hannah Pierce-Carlson