Mood Map - How happy is the world?

19 May 2010


A Blue Perspective: Mood Map - How happy is the world?

Mood Map – a visualisation of the world's mood

Data visualisation is a strange art. You almost have to approach it like a science.

When you begin, there's a huge mountain of data lying there. Opaque, impenetrable. In order to make sense of it you have to chance a guess; form a hypothesis. Once you have that hypothesis you have somewhere to begin; a way to start analysing your data. And it isn't till you've finished analysing it that you know whether there's anything worth visualising. It's one big fishing trip.

And so it was with Mood Map.

My hypothesis: Key events that occur in the real world would be reflected in people's communications (Twitter). When there was an earthquake there would be global empathy. When there was a world changing announcement, a global rejoicing.

My method: Every minute, sample the public timeline of Twitter for tweets with positive or negative emoticons. It's not a particularly foolproof way of measuring mood, but hey, I'm not a statistician or a text analysis specialist. Once I've got the tweets, geocode them and place them on a map, clustered according to volume and coloured according mood.

My conclusion: After gathering six months of data, monitoring world events, and analysing it all through my custom visualisation engine I've not discovered much. (Or maybe that means I have?) There's no empathy, no rejoicing. Everyone's pretty much wrapped up in themselves. (At least on Twitter <sarcasm>News Flash!</sarcasm>)

There's definitely no patterns I can discern on a global scale. You can see Mood Map at the time of the 2010 Haiti earthquake or the 2010 Chile earthquake. In both cases there's no discernible dent in global happiness, however it is possible to notice localised mood effects. For example there's a noticeable red dot in Poland when the Polish president died in a plane crash, and a smattering of unhappy Europeans while Eyjafjallajokull was erupting. But on the whole, the World stays at a steady 85 - 90% happiness day in day out.

I'll keep the data churning over for a while longer and see if any other patterns emerge, but for the moment it seems like it's best as a tool for spotting local (country-wide) mood fluctuations. If you take a look through the archives and spot something interesting, let me know!


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  1. 1/15

    Zach Leatherman commented on 19 May 2010 @ 06:50

    Maybe empathetic people have stopped using emoticons. :)

  2. 2/15

    Michael Koukoullis commented on 19 May 2010 @ 16:50

    Wow! You've been mining data for six months. Impressive.

    If there is a general level of happiness and it can be measured globally or for regions, could we discern changes in mood by charting the first derivative - fluctuations away from a baseline if you like. Just a thought. Impressive write up.

  3. 3/15

    yreadthis commented on 22 May 2010 @ 04:37

    Its nice thanks for sharing the MAP with us. Also thanks for showing how they are been done, you predict what the map does with the twitter. Twitter too helps all.

  4. 4/15

    Edel commented on 22 May 2010 @ 14:17

    Very original research and the map rendition is great. At this stage you probably need the help of a statistician who can help normalize and uncover significant patterns. And I am sure there are some. Also devise alerts for forecasting. And more.

  5. 5/15

    Francesco Ciriaci commented on 23 May 2010 @ 06:46

    Great work, amazing! I'm working on a crazy project with the idea of worldwide empathy through social networks: We invented a simple mood scale and are working on the personal mood tracking part of it and drafted integration with Facebook. If you're interested in the project (beyond what's visible atm) please do contact me.
    At least we can exchange some ideas on mood and empathy worldwide :-)
    And thanks for sharing your data.

  6. 6/15

    Alec, Web Designer commented on 24 May 2010 @ 07:49

    Your Mood Map is a very interesting concept really well rendered and visualised. Shame the results didnít give the swings I think you were looking for. Is there any way of adding the top news headline of the day to the map to try and reflect whatís happening in the world when Mood data is gathered? Or look for keywords from headlines in tweets that include emoticons?

  7. 7/15

    The Man in Blue commented on 24 May 2010 @ 11:56

    Hi Alec, those are good ideas.

    I recorded trending topic data and originally displayed it beneath the map, but found it didn't really add anything. From a brief analysis of the mood data on the map, there was actually a very weak correlation between people's content and the trending topics -- randomly selecting tweets means you're unlikely to get ones that mention the trending topics.

  8. 8/15

    igec commented on 25 May 2010 @ 01:08

    Very original research and the map rendition is great.

  9. 9/15

    vhskid commented on 25 May 2010 @ 01:09

    Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your post

  10. 10/15

    Daniel, Joomla Programmer commented on 27 May 2010 @ 12:56

    This a quite nice method to draw conclusions from the behavior. A very interesting part of psychology combined with modern tools like Twitter and Blogs. Thank you to show us this example!

  11. 11/15

    Recycled Business Cards commented on 29 May 2010 @ 13:09

    The Mood Map is a brilliant idea. It's interesting to know how people around the world are feeling at the moment. Although some moods are already expected on a given situation like a tragic event, it's still intriguing to know how the rest of the globe react to it.

  12. 12/15

    FachŁbersetzungen Nicole commented on 29 May 2010 @ 14:40

    As translator for german and english psychology studies and texts I'm impressed of such genius idea. Great mind behind :)

  13. 13/15

    Technology commented on 31 May 2010 @ 18:47

    Is there any way of adding the top news headline of the day to the map to try and reflect whatís happening in the world when Mood data

  14. 14/15

    Movie commented on 31 May 2010 @ 18:48

    We invented a simple mood scale and are working on the personal mood tracking part of it and drafted integration with Facebook.

  15. 15/15

    Theo commented on 1 June 2010 @ 17:56

    Great idea and awesome map, i have to twitt this ;)

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