Emotional Media: Tracking how we feel

De Lange (2013) suggests that to optimise smart city technologies and urban processes we need “to be more sensitive to affect” (no page). Because  “[t]he smart city does not appeal to the emotions and as a result insufficiently engages citizens” (ibid). Added to this Fors and O’Dell (2014) state that, “Techniques for monitoring the body is in a phase of digitalization that makes new ways of measuring the self both possible and accessible” (p3)

Leading me to look for some examples of how technology be used to measure emotion by collecting data in various ways.

1. Mood Panda  uses a mobile app to allow the user to actively track their mood through a regular input of data and can produce graphs, calendars and shared maps of moods.MoodPanda Features

There are various similar services, all of which suggest a link to personal health monitoring, where mood is directly related to mental health and that these apps could “empower millions of people to improve and take control of their health and well-being.” https://www.mood247.com/aboutmood

Fors and O’Dell (2014) are sceptical about the usefulness of body monitoring stating that these technologies “merit a reflection over the degree to which technology guides individuals and in the process deprives them of agency” (p14) suggesting that people may not be impartial when using these technologies, placing too much trust in the data.

2. People often write about their mood on social media, and tag their posts with  geolocative technology. The Hedonometer and Urban Sensing’s ‘Twitter Sentiment Analysis Tests’ attempt to show patterns of emotions using Twitter over time and distributed by place. As “tweets can be regarded as temporally-authentic microscopic instantiations of public mood state.” (Bollen, Pepe and Mao, 2009, no page)

HedonometerHowever, these projects gather data from a limited source i.e. those who have access to particular technology, therefore excluding many from being measured.

3. Surveillance technology with the capability to predict emotion through facial recognition software.Realeyes Facial Tracking

Realeyes is a commercial company who believe that “The more people feel, the more they spend.” They offer a service which tracks people’s facial expressions via webcam allowing businesses to track customer behaviour alongside their emotions. Turning tracking technologies into opportunities for increasing profits, and using webcams like web based cookies because, “emotions can profoundly affect individual behavior and decision-making.” (Bollen, Mao and Zeng 2010, no page)


Bollen J., Pepe A. and Mao H. (2009), Modelling public mood and emotion:Twitter sentiment and socio-economic phenomena. http://arxiv.org/pdf/0911.1583.pdf accessed 04/05/14

Bollen J, Mao H. and Zeng X.J. (2010), Twitter mood predicts the stock market. http://arxiv.org/pdf/1010.3003.pdf accessed 04/05/14

Clifford S and Hardy Q (14/07/13)Attention Shoppers: Store is Tracking Your Cell. The NY TImes, USA http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/15/business/attention-shopper-stores-are-tracking-your-cell.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

de Lange, M. (2013) The smart city you love to hate: Exploring the role of affect in hybrid urbanism. In The Hybrid City II: Subtle rEvolutions, edited by D. Charitos, I. Theona, D. Dragona and H. Rizopoulos. 23-25 May 2013. Athens, Greece. http://www.uu.nl/staff/MLdeLange/0 accessed 30/04/14

Datoo S. Friday (4/04/14), Smart cities: are you willing to trade privacy for efficiency? The Guardian, UK http://www.theguardian.com/news/2014/apr/04/if-smart-cities-dont-think-about-privacy-citizens-will-refuse-to-accept-change-says-cisco-chief accessed 04/05/2014

O’Dell, T and Fors, V (2014) Body monitoring: on the need to put culture into the quantifying equation. Submitted to Culture Unbound. http://www.lunduniversity.lu.se/o.o.i.s?id=12683&postid=4195709 accessed 30/04/14


Linked to the topic this week is the subject of ‘Big Data’, therefore, I have also included Jonathan Harris’ manifesto of the promises and perils of big data, commissioned by the NY Times

Jonathan Harris Big Data Manifesto

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