Wired’s Evan Selinger describes what he sees as a new direction of the Internet, wherein platforms now focus on tracking and categorizing how users feel about the content they consume:
The point is that all these interfaces are now focusing on the emotional aspects of our information diets. To put this development in a broader context: the mood graph has arrived, taking its place alongside the social graph (most commonly associated with Facebook), citation-link graph and knowledge graph (associated with Google), work graph (LinkedIn and others), and interest graph (Pinterest and others).
Like all these other graphs, the mood graph will enable relevance, customization, targeting; search, discovery, structuring; advertising, purchasing behaviors, and more. It also signals an important shift in computer-mediated communication.
Several aspects of this “mood graph” concern Selinger, including the potential of the “pre-fabricated symbols” of digital emotional communication (emoji, emoticons, and so on) to simplify the range and complexity of our feelings as well as the monetization of emotional tracking by companies like Facebook into advertising revenue.
FJP: Selinger cites Bitly for for feelings and methods of user-reported emotional expression in his piece, but other applications attempt to track mood using “raw” data, like the MoodScope, which analyzes smartphone data with an algorithm that takes into account sites visited (both physically and online), apps used, friends contacted, etc. Biofeedback technologies, such as Affectiva, collect data like facial expression, skin conductance, and heart rate to measure emotional state. These extensions of the Quantified Self movement have the potential to provide a more nuanced measure of our feelings than tracking premeditated verbal communication.
I also just want to mention that Tumblr culture seems to have developed its own language conventions (purposeful capitalization, lack of punctuation, etc.) to facilitate emotive expression (see this great Tumblr meta-discussion for more thoughts on that). So there is a way for language to accommodate tone and emotion to more closely mimick “IRL” interaction. And we might already be seeing that shift in mainstream language use. — Shining