'Hedonometer' Gauges US Mood Via Blogs, Tweets

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 31, 2009 3:10 PM CDT
A young blogger.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – 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. (Read more Internet stories.)