Review: We Feel Fine (the book) by Kamvar and Harris

Posted to Data Art, Reviews  |  Tags: ,  |  Nathan Yau

The opening page of We Feel Fine: An Almanac of Human Emotion reads a quote from “a woman in Maine.” It sets the stage for the rest of the book.

I have a problem I’m sure many other bloggers face: I am perfectly comfortable sharing intimate details about my emotions with complete strangers I meet online but shy away from expressing my true feelings to anyone I know in real life.

For those unfamiliar, We Feel Fine is a project from Jonathan Harris and Sep Kamvar that’s been online since 2006. At its core, the goal is to show the emotions of the authors behind millions of blog posts on the Web by looking for sentences that start with “I feel” or “I am feeling.” It’s an interactive artwork “authored by everyone.”

We Feel Fine the book, also by Kamvar and Harris, is a selection of some of the best entries from the database of 12 million emotions, along with some insights into the growing dataset (mostly the former).

Here are some pages from the book to give you an idea.

Want to see more? You can actually flip through the entire book online.

Who Will Like the Book

As a supplement to the online artwork, which I’m a big fan of, the book works really well. It provides lots of good excerpts, and in the end, it’s entertaining. The best comparison I can think of is PostSecret. You know the blog/book that features secrets from anonymous people. Similarly, We Feel Fine is a snapshot of emotions from people you don’t know; however, even though they’re complete strangers, you will no doubt identify with many of them. Basically, if you like PostSecret, you’ll probably like this book. There’s a slightly greater data spin to it though, which of course I appreciate.

Anyways, you don’t really need to hear what I think. Just check out the entire book online and form your own opinion.

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