Live Blog: Jonathan Harris: the Web’s secret stories

Jonathan Harris: the Web’s secret stories

For this exercise, I chose to live-blog Jonathan Harris’ TED Talk, The Web’s Secret Stories.

0:20 I don’t really tell stories in the usual way. Not telling stories in the usual way – instead building tools that allow people to tell stories around the world.

0:39 People have a lot in common, people are very similar. But as I look around the world, I see a lot of gaps. There’s a lot of gaps that we define ourselves with, including ethnicity, wealth, education, sexuality, religious, etc.

1:13 We like our gaps because we identify with a smaller community. But I think despite our gaps, we have a lot in common. We have a common deep need to express ourselves.

2:05 People have been leaving behind footprints that tell stories. I write computer programs that study these footprints and try to draw conclusions about the people who left them.

2:32 One of these projects is We Feel Fine. It scans newly-posted blog entries for statements of “I feel” or “I’m feeling” and tracks the age, location and even the weather of the person who wrote it. This to to try and visualize how people feel and measure human emotions.

3:05 Database collects about 20,000 feelings per day.

3:15 The “We Feel Fine” swarming data particles can be visualized in a lot of ways, including: color and diameter. They exhibit curiosity.

4:27 – 6 movements of We Feel Fine include: murmurs, montage, mobs, weather, location

8:35 We Feel Fine uses a technique called passive observation – it observes people as they live their lives. You end up getting honest, candid, sincere response.

9:05 Another project – Yahoo TIme Capsule. It divided into themes with a very simple question. Was available for 1 month, in 10 languages. It is a spinning globe with what people submitted. It has 10 themes. For 3 nights the contents of the time capsule were projected on the Red Rocks canyon walls.

10:30 Looked at this info and saw the gaps (wealth, age, etc) but noticed the same archeological events again and again (weddings, funerals, dates, etc).

11:08 Thought about the night sky and how humans use it to tell stories.

11:35 He wondered about our world today. If we could make new constellations today – what would those be? What would we draw? What are the great stories today?

11:57 Inspired his new project called Universe: Revealing our Modern Mythology.

12:29 Stars represent a specific event in the world – a quote, an imagine news story, etc. As the cursor touches the stars, shapes begin to emerge.

13:48 Anything you click on can become the center of the universe and everything related will revolve around it.

14:22 There’s no end. It just goes infinitely.

14:34 We can be more specific in defining the universe. You can see all things Bill Clinton. The stories, secrets, superstars – the people that are the looming heroes and heroins in the world of Bill Clinton. You can see a world map.

16:48 Supports the motion of global mythology and also a personal mythology – as you search for the things that are important to you in your world.


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