Researchers from Black Dog Institute and CSIRO have today unveiled a new online tool called ‘We Feel’ which analyses the words from millions of tweets to display a real-time view of our emotions.
We Feel will help researchers understand how our emotions fluctuate over time due to changes in social, economic and environmental factors such as weather, time of day, news of a natural disaster or political instability.
It is hoped the tool could help understand how our collective mood changes and could help monitor community mental health and predict where services need to be assigned.
In the first instance, We Feel will help Black Dog Institute researchers verify whether the large and fast sample of information coming from Twitter can accurately map our emotions.
Professor Helen Christensen, Black Dog Institute Director says We Feel represents the world’s first foray into understanding how social media can be used to detect poor mental health and observe shifts according to time and place.
“The power of this information cannot be underestimated. Currently, mental health researchers and associated public health programs use population data that can be over five years old.”
“Should the real-time data gained using this incredible tool prove accurate, we will have the unique opportunity to monitor the emotional state of people across different geographical areas and ultimately predict when and where potentially life-saving services are required.”
“We Feel looks for up to 600 specific words in a stream of around 27 million tweets per day and maps them to a hierarchy of emotions which includes love, joy, surprise, anger, sadness and fear,”
says Dr Cecile Paris, Research leader in language and social computing at CSIRO’s Digital Productivity and Services Flagship.
“You can explore emotion and trends on a minute by minute time scale, across locations around the globe and gender to further refine the results”
Interestingly, the tool has already picked up a spike in the public’s emotional response to last week’s budget announcement and will continue to collect data that will be analysed by Black Dog’s researchers.
“To help us cope with the enormous volume of tweets coming down the pipe, up to 32,000 per minute, Amazon Web Services have provided their latest Kinesis platform, a fully managed big data service for real-time processing of streaming big data at massive scale. Without this we wouldn’t have been able to process the tweets in real time.”
Dr Paris said.
Teresa Carlson, Vice President, Worldwide Public Sector at Amazon says the Kinesis platform offers users the flexibility to collect, store, analyse and share data on mass, efficiently.
The “We Feel” project is a great example of the immense potential of Amazon Kinesis-enabled applications, and we are thrilled to be involved in this important research study. Customers using Amazon Kinesis no longer have to try and build their own real-time streaming service and deal with the technical challenges Instead they are able to focus on developing applications that work with data itself – gaining insights into events, patterns and live user activity as they occur.
We Feel is accessible to the public for a short time at http://wefeel.csiro.au.
Background information and images for We Feel can be found here.