GroupThought - An Experiment In Realtime Emotional Data Visualization

by Brennan Novak on Jun 12th, 2012

On Saturday June 2nd, a couple of people teamed up with me in the Vibrant Data Hackathon in Portland, OR. The competition took place after a tight dev sprint of about 6 hours. The last hour of the sprint was hurried and tight but luckily, we were able to pull off what I set out to- create a data visualization of how a room feels about a live discussion, as it is happening in realtime.

How The App Worked

A slideshow was loaded on a webpage which was projected onto the wall for group viewing. Below the slideshow was six colored rectangles to represent the types of language as per specified via the Emoome API.

Users were instructed that they could either send SMS message or record their thoughts via a tool available at from either desktop or mobile web browser. As I talked through the slideshow people sent in comments or random words about how they felt about the presentation.

The comments people submitted were then parsed via the Emoome Language API and the results were displayed in realtime below the slideshow that was being projected. As you can see the most common word type the room used was "descriptive" words.

What's Different About GroupThought

The concept behind GroupThought is fundamentally different than using an existing service like Twitter and simply doing a hashtag search; then projecting that feed. GroupThought is a snapshot of an event generated by only the people participating in that event. Twitter data (or other public social sites) are available to the whole internet, GroupThought is private. By narrowing that channel of communication and the audience- people will alter what they say, this leads to a more accurate and intimate retelling of an event.

But, the main thing that sets GroupThought apart, is that it offers a realtime visualization of what everyone is saying- however similar or dissimilar that is. Through creating a normalized standard (and visualizing this) GroupThought strives to "understand" what the group is thinking.

How GroupThought Placed

The audience seemed quite excited during demo and were complimentary- luckily the judges seemed to agree. Team Emoome ended up tying for 2nd Place and taking home a cash prize of $2,500 to split amongst the team. We could not have been happier with how everything turned out. Thanks to the sponsors: Intel Labs, Growth Science, PopArt, and Thetus Corporation, and everyone else who participated.


Quantified Self Show & Tell: A Life Changing Event

by Brennan Novak on Apr 15th, 2012

On April 10th there was a larger than usual Quantified Self: Show & Tell at Wieden + Kennedy in Portland. I had been asked to present data I had gathered during some early experiments I had been conducted with Emoome in the fall of 2011. The experiments were mostly me, my then girlfriend,  and other close friends. I was told that one of the fellows who founded the QS movement was going to be present and that I should definitely try to get my slides together.  

The Secret Lives of Words & Brains

The reason this event was "Life Changing" is that being prodded to present at the Show & Tell drastically changed the trajectory of my current life and dedication to this project in particular. A few years ago I had read this article written by Gary Wolf, the fellow who  co-founded the QS movement, and it changed the direction of my life. That article and concept was a corner stone in making me dedicate my career and passion to technology 100%, it had inspired me  with a deeper hope for the human condition than any piece or art, literature, or music had in years. With that said, if only I had a quantified measure of the impact of that article and how it made me feel three years ago :)

*Disclaimer: Given the nature of Emoome- emotional journaling and personality mapping, I am feeling inspired to sprinkle news, and blog posts with personal anecdotes- hopefully you, dear reader, will gain something from them.