Back in 2006 I was working on a venture I called SocialNet (MySocialMap), based largely on research by dinah boyd and the Vister application she and Jeffery Heer put together. The idea was to build a icon based visual map of relationships across multiple social networks and layer this with a Taste Fabric styled algorithm. Users would be able to visualize their relationships across social networks (something still not done well) as well as discover their networks propensity to like anything from brands to movies. After a couple of successful beta applications the initiative got bogged down in a bunch of issues from vendor management to time constraints (not to mention SocialStream). I had to shelve it late last year after a ton of work and a couple grand in expenses with only a barebones prototype to show for it.
Fast-forward 8 months and the web is full of amazing websites that are mining the data from the traditional social networks as well as the many newer social media applications like Twitter, Britekite and many others. These experiments are showing how large groups of people feel about particular topics or events, (the mood of the web). With time, and not that much time, these experiments will continue to evolve getting both deeper (more information about specific groups, emotions, memes) and wider (more sources and types of data).
A couple of years ago while working on an aggregated commenting project at Turner, I was putting a few Huge inc. salesmen, through the wringer to access if they were actually users of social media or mere observers of it. They pointed me to WeFeelFine as an example of what they considered important projects in the space. Needless to say these guys were not just mere observers. The site scans the post on sites like Live Journal, Blogger, Myspace, Typepad and many others for post that include the words “I feel” or “i am feeling” followed by any one of about 5,000 emotions, from aware to zanny. It groups these social utterances by age, gender, weather, location and date using a number of different visualization methods. The site combines loverly infographic porn with enough soul bareing voyeuristic goodness to keep even the PostSecret crew happy. the
This one is a little bit rougher around the edges then WeFeelFine and the visualizations arent as stunning but the concept is just as thought provoking. Here rather then the huge volumes of data from across social applications, the information is limited to posts from Twitter. The emotional range is also a bit more constrained, with only Love, hate, think, believe, feel, wish as options. However I think the limited number of emotional choices adds to the usefulness of the application. The implications and uses for brands (both personal and commercial) is pretty huge. Imagine tracking the global conversation around your brand using a twistori type tool paired with WeFeelFine styled reports.