If you think blogs are useless, think again: Scientists have developed a “hedonometer,” or happiness gauge, that analyzes personal online statements to pinpoint the overall contentment of the US population on a given day, the Discovery Channel reports. The program looks at sentences beginning with “I feel” and then grades the statement based on what follows. “Triumphant” gets an 8.87; “hostage” scores a 2.20.
“We wanted to capitalize on the explosion of blogs and now Twitter to build an instrument that would give us some measure of the emotional signal from a large collective,” one creators says. Election Day registered as happy; the anniversary of 9/11 is generally down. The program’s limitations, however, mean that when a blogger writes, “I am not happy,” the statement will be considered an effusive declaration of joy.