Jonathan Harris is an artist, computer scientist and anthropologist. It’s an interesting combination that yields fascinating results. In the inspirational and funny talk below, he shows how he combines these interests and professions into a website that constantly tracks what is being said online. Then he maps and groups them in all kinds of way, with all kinds of other information like your age, gender, weather in your city, etc. on a site called We Feel Fine. Never mind what people are tracking about you online and who can harness it, without your permission, but look at what it tells you about the world as is being expressed in text on the Internet.
In another application, he converts what is being said into word constellations in the stars. The history of constellations was that they told what was important in life and to the culture naming the constellations via the stories told at the time. The Universe site shows what our constellations would look like if we created them today objectively based on what is said.
Then after the talk, you can go to try the webware itself. That is, you can try the program on the Internet without downloading anything. But whether you care to try or not, just listening to the talk gives you a very different perspective of what’s going on over the Internet, and what people can do with it that you likely don’t know if you’re like most people I know. There are also a few big picture insights into humanity.
This could be a huge time killer if you love this big picture stuff, with ability to mine down into the smallest details of your interest. I’m trying to get therapy not to waste my life away on it! 🙂
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 9.6
Jonathan Harris: The Web’s Secret Stories (Mar 2007)