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Feeling the Marketing Way: How Marketers Can Make New Emotional Connections

Written on
May 25, 2006 
Author
Cindy Gallop  |

One of the (in my view) most talented young artists working today doesn’t create the kind of art that you can hang on your wall or place on display in the real world. He creates art on the Internet — but in a way that enables the viewer to interact with the real world in a uniquely innovative way.

His name is Jonathan Harris, and you can view the full spectrum of his work via his website at www.number27.org.

It ranges from www.tenbyten.org — a site which, every hour on the hour, collects the 100 words and pictures that matter most on a global scale (without human intervention, autonomously observing what a handful of leading international news sources are saying and showing) and presents them as a single image that encapsulates that moment in time.Through www.justcurio.us — an anonymous question and answer system, open to anyone, with only one rule:that to ask a question, you must first answer someone else’s.To www.wordcount.org, an interactive presentation of the 86,800 most frequently used English words, ranked and scaled in order of commonnessand arranged side by side as one, very long sentence.

Jonathan’s latest and most ambitious (and impressive) work is We Feel Fine — a collaboration with Sepandar Kamvar, technical lead of personalization at Google, which was only launched two weeks ago, on May 8.We Feel Fine is a wholly unique exploration of human emotion on a global scale, using the Internet.

Since August 2005, the system has been harvesting human feelings from a large number of blogs, searching newly posted blog entries every few minutes for occurrences of the phrases ‘I feel’ and ‘I am feeling’.When it finds them, it records the full sentence up to the period, together with associated images, and identifies the ‘feeling’ expressed (e.g. sad, happy, angry etc). The largely standardized structure of blogs means that the age, gender and geographical location of the author can often be extracted and saved too, as can the local weather conditions at the time the sentence was written.

The result is a database of several million human feelings, increasing by 15-20,000 new feelings per day, expressed as an interface comprising a self-organizing particle system, where each particle represents a single feeling posted by a single individual.We Feel Fine presents this system across six different movements titled Madness, Murmurs, Montage, Mobs, Metrics and Mounds, allowing the feelings to be searched and sorted across each movement by demographics, and therefore to answer questions such as, ‘Do Europeans feel sad more often than Americans?”What are people in Baghdad feeling right now?’ ‘Which are the happiest cities in the world?’ etc., etc.

We Feel Fine is impossible to describe, especially its sheer graphic beauty in the way it is designed and the way the particles self-organize into fascinating combinations and patterns. I strongly urge you to visit it, given that in my view it is a particularly compelling and extraordinary demonstration of the potential that innovation on the Internet holds for marketers, communicators and anyone looking to engage and build emotional relationships with particular target audiences.For the following reasons:





In 2003 Advertising Women of New York voted Cindy Advertising Woman of the Year. Cindy resigned as chairman of BBH US in 2005, after sixteen years with the agency, in order to focus on finding something different to do for the next chapter of her career.

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