Our nation’s Olympic mood reflected by The London Eye
EDF Energy has teamed up with linguistic analysis experts to highlight national sentiment via The London Eye. SoSo Limited are monitoring Twitter feeds from their headquarters in Massachusetts and examining the public’s references to the Games.
This scrutiny is designed to categorise vast quantities of tweets into piles of positive and negative data which provides users with an untainted outlet. SoSo Limited will then pass their findings on to EDF Energy, patrons of both The London Eye and the 2012 Olympics, to communicate the results over The River Thames. The colour of the illuminations will directly correspond with the overriding emotional reaction that Twitter indicates through hashtags such as #Olympics, #London2012 and #OlympicGames – Yellow lights represent predominantly optimistic tweets, green lights imply neutrality and purple lights signify downbeat attitudes.
This project is inspired by the work of Kraft Foods, a national distributor of gelatin-based products in the USA, which employed a similar idea last year. The Jell-O Pudding Face Mood Meter used Twitter emoticons to control the smiles and scowls of an associated graphic.
The London Eye is determined to take this concept to a different level entirely, in terms of statistical probing, accuracy and audience. The algorithm which is being used to extract relevant information for this system takes into account an unprecedented number of ‘buzzwords’ and churns out the calculations as simple percentages.
Another aspect of the endeavour which sets it apart from its predecessor is the complexity and visual spectacle it offers during the Olympics. Cameron says that “the lighting show starts at 9pm every night, and features a 24-minute display of various colours and patterns.” Each of these 24 minutes represents an hour of the past 24, a mixture of glowing beams which directly correlates with the Olympic events taking place.
The project uses a wealth of sophisticated equipment to scaffold it and create a marvel worthy of decorating the Olympic scenery. However, many potential technical issues threaten enterprises of this magnitude, a reality which John Rothenberg, a co-founder of Soso Limited, is anxious to avoid. He warned that “problems can disrupt any intricate system, especially one which is always switched on and live.”
However, SoSo Limited has been able to hold glitches at bay so far, whilst they focus on compiling masses of data to fuel the initiative. The M.I.T graduates have been grouping Olympic tweets for over a month now, with The London Eye playing host to the project for more than a week. This process has involved studying an average of 100,000 tweets a day, an extremely large statistical base to maintain. Unfortunately for those trawling the Twittersphere, this number is expected to double when The Games kick off. It’s a good thing that those involved are enjoying the experience, as the hard work is about to increase.
The beauty of this experiment is that its success will ultimately be decided by the nation. The response has been somewhat buoyant according to the latest gauges, with plenty of sunny yellow lights shining down from The London Eye. Although there have been splashes of green ambiguity, the project has noted a marked absence of purple glare over the past week.
John predicts that the trio of colours which indicate the disposition of domestic tweeters is likely to fluctuate greatly as The Games move on. He forecasts that “there will be times when people are very positive, such as during the opening ceremony and when British athletes are doing well.”
Although the British public are familiar with agonising defeat, the excitement of victory was a refreshing surprise at Beijing 2008. Hopefully this newly formed expectancy will limit purple bursts to fleeting streaks which are otherwise marshalled by dazzling yellow rays. An exceptionally appealing aspect of this display is the virtual impossibility of manipulating the outcome, due to the sheer mountain of tweets being used. John commends this rejection of interference, saying that “it safeguards the plan we have set out, which is to allow all people to take part in the Olympics, not just a select few.”Tagged in: EDF, London 2012, olympics, SoSo Limited, The London Eye, twitter
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