We Feel Fine

we feel fine logoIt’s taken me a while to put together this post. It’s been sitting in my drafts folder since early last week, and in the meantime lots of you have probably seen wefeelfine.org.

I’ll try to summarise why I think it’s such an important site. The most important reason is that it’s a site that’s built of user generated content. But without anyone generating content for the site. What the site does is to go and ‘scrape’ lots of other websites and pull out sentences where people have said “I feel…” or “I am feeling…”. It then categorises and processes the sentences (and associated images) so that they can be displayed and interrogated in new and interesting ways.

For example, if on a MySpace page I’d said “I feel like I’m coming down with flu”, it would pull this sentence into the database. Then it would look at my profile and say, OK, a 33 year old male from London says he feels like he’s coming down with flu. It would also look at the date and location on my post and use this to figure out the weather. So it would then be able to add the fact it’s raining to the context of my words.

It’s so clever. It’s recycled, repackaged and re-ordered loads of human content from around the web. And by doing so it’s created something much more interactive and compelling than the original words themselves. But the real feat, is that for all it’s cleverness, the site itself feels simple and easy to use. And it looks beautiful too.

We Feel Fine / by Jonathan Harris and Sepandar Kamvar

There’s also another application of similar technology at: Love-lines.com. Created by the same team this looks of expressions of love and hate online.

Nobody Reads Ads

I just read this Guest Essay from the 2004 Gunn Report by Fred & Farid. There’s some really interesting stuff in there. I particularly like the way that they talk about consumers:

The marketing strategy talks to the consumers; but we are not consumers! The only place and moment when we think like a consumer is when we are in the supermarket. The rest of the time, we are not consumers. We do not think like consumers. We are not Targets; that is even more stupid. We are an audience. We are viewers. We are spectators of a huge media show.

But for me it was this quote, by Howard Gossage, that really stood out from the whole essay:

Nobody reads ads. People read what interests them. Sometimes it is an ad.

In a post-schedule, non-linear world these are some of the truest words I ever read. Have a read of the essay, there’s definitely some good bits.

Fun Features 2

After my previous post on Photo Booth. And how small simple novelty features can sometimes be the makings of a product, I thought I should share this: it’s a feature on a Casio camera that allows you to take 2 shots and combine them ‘in camera’. I know it’s horrible, but it’s what you get if you combine me and Nik Roope.

It’s not a tough thing to do with an image editing package. But the fact that the results are immediate, and the process dead simple, kept us amused for a good hour or so on Saturday.

Teabuddy – Still on the Boil

teabuddy in the guardianTeabuddy.comPoke‘s solution to teamaking shirkers in the workplace, got a mention in Saturday’s Guardian Magazine. Looks like they’ve just lifted the quotes from an earlier Wired interview that Nik and I did. I still love the fact that Wired used this quote:

Trust the Brits to turn their obsession with drinking tea into a “turnkey b2b enterprise-level web-based tea management solution infrastructure.”

Interesting to see that something a couple of years old that hasn’t been updated for ages can get picked up again right now. I guess it’s all part of that old Long Tail thing.

More on Participation

the 72:1.8 ruleFollowing on from the earlier post about people participating in communities I thought this post contained some great stats: The 1% Rule: Charting citizen participation. Points to the fact that 1% of Yahoo! Group members start groups and 10% of visitors ‘synthesize’ (or interact) with that content. On Wikipedia 1.8% of users have submitted 72% of the content.

The 72:1.8 rule isn’t as catchy as the 80:20 rule. But at the same time when people start banging on about user generated content it’s always handy to have some numbers like this in the back pocket. Read more.

Online Community Motivations and Reputations

Faris left this rather good link about motivations for contributing to online communities to in the comments. I’m not going to summarise it here. But there’s a couple of thoughts I had about how this might change in the future…
It’s interesting to think how this might all change once our digital identities are no longer tied to individual sites or reputation systems. So if I turn up at a new community with my Amazon Top 100 reviewer badge and 3 gold Ebay stars (not that I have either of those things), would it make me more or less attractive to the people who are there. I guess it all depends on whether it’s a community that respects those ‘tribal’ badges.

And what happens if I get found out as having been a member of a ‘rival’ community in the past. Or, if in my wayward youth, I was badly behaved in a community and got chucked out of somewhere. Online ASBOs anyone…

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that if motivations and behaviours are motivated in certain ways, once those motivations extend outside of a ‘local’ online space, and become ‘global’ then the whole game changes. And I reckon that once various pieces of online ID become joined-up it’s going to get pretty tricky to erase unwanted parts of your history. It’s not like in the offline world where only a few people have access to your ‘files’, most of the things you’ve said and done in a public online space are stored indefinitely for all to see.

Which reminds me of a great presentation I watched a while ago – Dick Hardt from Sxip talking about Identity 2.0. Great content and great style.

Gnarls Barkley – Crazy Video

Crazy Video StillCool Hunting blog the Gnarls Barkley video for UK chart smash number one hit – Crazy. It’s top. A really simple idea beautifully executed. Based around a morphing set of Rorschach ink blots it’s a worthy accompaniment to the track. I don’t know quite why I felt compelled to write about it, it just moved me. But I guess there’s a few things that I really liked:

  1. The video mirrors the beauty (and simplicity) of the track; which is nice.
  2. They’re both a modern interpretation of things from the past. They feel like they’ve been inspired by loads of things, but actually imitate nothing (that I’m aware of).
  3. They both stand out from everything around them. The track just bursts out of the radio. And if I watched MTV I’m sure that this video would really stand out alongside the ‘booty action’ of most modern hip hop videos.

Anyway, you can watch it here if you like: Gnarls Barkley – Crazy (Quicktime)