The Ferguson protests: Quantifying state-level sentiment on Twitter

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Reporting on the August 9, 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown, David Carr concluded his August 17 piece for the New York Times by observing that "nothing much good was happening in Ferguson until it became a hashtag”. Following the story's rise and spread on Twitter, the protests in Missouri swiftly captured the news cycle in the U.S., and brought into focus the consequences … [Read more...]

How our storytelling nature means we deeply misunderstand the mechanics of fame (and much else…)

Should the Mona Lisa be our most famous painting? Was Harry Potter destined to (repeatedly) sweep the globe? What would happen to everyone and everything famous if we ran the experiment that is our world over again? Find out why fame is truly unpredictable, how it lives and dies entirely in our social stories, and why "... there is no such thing as fate, only the story of … [Read more...]

How does movement influence your daily happiness?

Imagine commuting an hour to work, one way, grinding through miles of traffic to get from your suburban home to a desk job in the big city. Excited yet? Ok, now imagine that you lead a life of leisure traveling the world. You fly coast-to-coast to see a concert, soak in some culture, and drink fine wine. Does this lifestyle seem more appealing? Lets try to quantify the … [Read more...]

Now Published: The Geography of Happiness

Today we're pleased to announce that our article "The Geography of Happiness: Connecting Twitter sentiment and expression, demographics, and objective characteristics of place" has been officially published by PLoS ONE.  We wanted to tell you about one key piece we've added to the paper and an unusual new Twitter account we've created. After our three blog posts (which … [Read more...]

Now online: the Dow Jones Index of Happiness

Total excitement people: our website hedonometer.org has gone live.  We're measuring Twitter's happiness in real time.  Please check it out! If you're still here, here's the blurb from the site's about page: Happiness: It’s what most people say they want. So how do we know how happy people are? You can’t improve or understand what you can’t measure. In a blow to happiness, … [Read more...]

The Twitter Diet

How does food (or talking about food online) relate to how happy you are? This is part 3 of our series on the Geography of Happiness. Previously we've looked at how happiness varies across the United States (as measured from word frequencies in geotagged tweets), and then at how different socioeconomic factors relate to variations in happiness. Now we focus in on one particular … [Read more...]

What makes a city happy?

Welcome back, onehappybird watchers! Wow, what a crazy week of coverage of our post about how happiness varies by city and state across the United States. Many, many people read, shared, and commented on the post, for which we are grateful. For the detailed explanation of the results, check out the full paper we recently submitted to PLoS ONE. A number of readers wondered how … [Read more...]

Where is the happiest city in the USA?

(Update: this work is now published at PLoS ONE) Is Disneyland really the happiest place on Earth?* How happy is the city you live in? We have already seen how the hedonometer can be used to find the happiest street corner in New York City, now it's time to let it loose on the entire United States. We plotted over 10 million geotagged tweets from 2011 (all our results are in … [Read more...]

The Daily Unraveling of the Human Mind

Each morning we find ourselves in wide flung arms of drowsy possibilites. Cradled by the warm embrace of our beds, we begin our day, rebooted and rejuvenated. Having not eaten for a full eight hours, we can enjoy a guilt free breakfast, setting a blissful tone for the day. Last night's dreams of victory and triumph bolster our delusions of adequacy, preparing us to surmount … [Read more...]

If you’re happy and we know it … are your friends?

Do your friends influence your behavior?  Of course they do.  But it's hard to actually measure their influence.  Social contagion is difficult to distinguish from homophily, the tendency we have to seek relationships with people like ourselves. In response to the "happiness is contagious" phenomenon promoted by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler, we here at onehappybird … [Read more...]

Question: Where is the happiest place in New York City?

Possible answers: Immediately adjacent to any hot dog stand. Madison Square Garden during moments of Linsanity. Tim Tebow's new apartment building. No really though, let's measure some stuff. Facts: (1) New York City is the most populous city in the US and (2) Manhattan streets are arranged on a rectangular grid. We have already seen how cities, airports, and even streets … [Read more...]

Does QWERTY Affect Happiness?

Last week, news broke of a paper published in the Psychonomic Bulletin and Review by Kyle Jasmin and Daniel Casasanto claiming to observe a positive relationship between the "right-handedness" of a word and its emotional valence. This is being called the 'QWERTY effect'. (You may recall that 'valence' is psych-speak for 'happiness' associated with words.  What I called … [Read more...]