If it's February 14, the Internet must be in love.
So say a trio of Dutch researchers, who claim that they can track the "mood" of the Internet by monitoring millions of blogs. The three from the NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research) have produced a program, dubbed "MoodViews," that spots trends in attitudes, if not in latitudes, of more than two million bloggers, and thus, they say, of the overall "mood patterns" of the Web.
"The clearly measurable responses to worldwide events suggest that these instruments pick up the global mood," Maarten de Rijke, a professor at the Universiteit van Amsterdam and part of its Intelligent Systems Lab, said in a statement. Colleagues Gilad Mishne and Krisztian Balog work with de Rijke on the project.
Each day, MoodViews reviews 150,000 blog entries for target words and LiveJournal mood indicator tags, then categorize them into one or more of 30 to 40 different moods, ranging from "cranky" and "confused" to "horny" and "hopeful."
The results are published daily as a series of graphs at the MoodViews site.
MoodViews is actually made up of three component: Moodgrapher, which tracks the Internet's mood level; Moodteller, a mood predictor that compares future estimated moods with the real deal; and Moodsignals, a beta tool that identifies mood peaks, then tries to explain those peaks by doing additional analysis on the bloggers' writing.
Among its successes, said de Rijke, was MoodViews spotting a huge spike in the "loved" mood on Valentine's Day and major hikes in the "worried" mood in the days after 2005's Hurricane Katrina.
Just a warning: according to MoodViews, "crazy" has spiked in the past 24 hours, to about 25 percent of the blogs tracked. Second warning: those spikes are unusual.