Unintentional PostSecrets

I love TEDTalks.  Almost as much as I love NPR.  Woah.  That might be a bit of an overstatement, if by 'bit' you mean an absolutely huge overstatement.

Regardless of what kind of statement it is, I found myself mesmerized this past week by TEDTalk after TEDTalk, having been sucked into a kind of awful one about sustainable fashion choices and never buying brand new clothing, but rather choosing to shop second-hand.  Sounds amazing, right?!  It, unfortunately, was not.

What was amazing – nay, more than amazing – was a TEDTalk by Jonathan Harris on the soul and heartbeat of the world wide web.  He featured a few of his projects – something for Yahoo! in 2006 and this thing called Universe – and totally. blew. my. mind. with his magnum opus "We Feel Fine."  You can find it here.

Now, listen.  I am indeed the kind of person who says things like "That was visually stunning." without some sort of regularity and whose jaw literally hung open during much of the movie Across the Universe (seriously, guys.  That movie, while having a merely mediocre plot, is without a doubt the most beautiful movie ever).  I judge the beauty and, let's be honest, personal value of art not by its exactness of resemblance to the subject at hand, but by its emotional impact on me as a viewer.  With that asterisk on the table, I am here to tell you that We Feel Fine is, in my judgment, one of the most remarkable works to come out of the internet.

And yet, it seems like nobody really knows about it.

...which also blows my mind.

So what is it all about?  The indubitable Mr. Harris wrote coding that scans the internet every few minutes for any sentence that has any variation of the verb "to feel" or noun "feeling" in it.  When it finds one, it catalogs that sentence (from period to period) and it rips the picture associated with it – while also collecting data about the gender of the writer, their location, the time of the post and, in a quirky stroke of brilliance, the weather in the location of the writer.

Confession:  while I think this project is totally brilliant, it also makes me very paranoid about using the phrase "I feel like..." on the internet any more.  Not because it seems like an invasion of privacy – I mean, hello!  I'm writing a blog! – but because now I know, and I can't un-know, and it somehow takes away from the poignancy of the whole thing if you do it intentionally.

Here's what you see:

Swirling dots that indicate the general mood of the statement (dark colors are negative emotions, bright happy) and length (larger dots mean longer sentences).

And then, you get what is my favorite part of the project:  montage.  The applet bundles the statements with their corresponding pictures and displays them in a grid.  The result is a sort of poignancy that is difficult to achieve in art, to say nothing of web coding.  They are unintentional PostSecrets.

Here are some favorites from the last couple of hours:

Totally rad, right?


Post a Comment


Lauren Kay House © 2011