Success in network media isn’t about ego. No one cares who you are, or what you’ve done before – unless you’re Jonathan Harris or Joshua Davis ;-)
Audiences care about whether they like your thing or not. More honest and ernest cultures tend to make better work in a networked place. Empathy is paramount in a user-centred business, and empathy and ego don’t mix so well.
That’s not to say there aren’t any godzilla-sized egos in the digital world, that would just be a monster lie.
It’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.