On Live Journal mood tracking and zeitgeists…

07/08/2005

There are two or three major things I’m thinking about at the moment – and one of them is zeitgeists. Which brings me rapidly to The World according to LiveJournal which is an awesome tracking system of LiveJournal moods over the last seven days. If you go and look at it now and try moods like ‘sympathetic’, ‘distressed’ or ‘nauseated’ you can see that the bombings in London have had a real impact on people’s moods. If you invetigate more thoroughly you can see that other moods have been inversely affected or show more complex relationships. There was a parallel drop on ‘horny’ during the coverage, an enormous drop in ‘irritated’ which then turned into a spike. Fewer people felt ‘guilty’, more felt ‘grateful’.

A couple of obvious things fall out of this for me – you could use this data to articulate relationships in moods really effectively – which things in the world cause reactions, what kinds of reactions do they cause, which moods are more closely correlated or act against one another. I keep looking for clear moods that you’d expect to see appearing twenty four hours after an event like this, but so far I’m only seeing a few (people seemed to become irate in two major spikes – I wonder why).

Another obvious thing would be to use this data to alert people to things that were going on in the world or to track trends over time. I believe that LiveJournal knows which country people are from – combining that data with the stuff from the site would be tremendously useful. Sending alerts to news gathering organisations would be interesting too. Mood expression and collation is such a fascinating area and has some real possibilities for data-mining and zeitgeist taking. Can anyone else think of good ways to get this information from people and to employ it – ideally in an open way? The best I can come up with off the top of my head is AIM status messages using controlled vocabularies and opened up in some spiderable fashion…