Download PDF version of this article PDF

Measuring the Web’s Mood

For years bloggers have used mood tags to personalize their entries. Often linked to an appropriate emoticon, the available mood tags on blogging sites such as LiveJournal allow users to capture a full range of human emotions, from the obvious (happy) to the obscure (quixotic). Now researchers at a Dutch university are using this data to measure the mood of the Web as a whole. Their software, called MoodViews, scans more than 150,000 daily blog entries on LiveJournal and aggregates the mood tag data. The data is then graphed to reveal trends and patterns over time.

One of the project’s developers said he has seen interest from marketers, psychologists, and bankers. The implication is that the mood data collected from LiveJournal corresponds to the overall global mood, and that from it, useful, perhaps even profitable, connections and predictions can be made. Thus far, MoodViews has shown promise making mostly simple correlations. For example, the available data shows weekend nights marked by a steep increase in the “drunk” mood. Apparently, few people are truly aware of the dangers of drunk blogging.


Software Slump on the Mend?

The folks at ACM have been pointing out the growth in the software industry for a while now. Even so, many were surprised recently when Money magazine listed software engineer as the top job in its annual “Best Jobs in America” report. The magazine ranked jobs according to factors such as pay, growth, flexibility, and stress level.

The top ranking comes despite (or possibly because of) a diminishing number of qualified professionals to fill the available software engineering jobs. The results of the recent ACM international collegiate programming contest could be telling: Only one U.S. team (M.I.T.) finished in the top 10 (Russia had five). Whether or not the contest results directly correlate with the fitness of the workforce, the message is clear that the United States needs to inspire and train a new generation of software engineers.

Fortunately, work is being done on that front. In addition to the publicity from being the “No. 1 Job in America,” the profession is getting a boost from key industry players. Microsoft hopes to encourage new developers by extending the free download period for its Visual Studio Express, while IBM is promoting the profession in high schools by providing free computer science curricula to more than 36,000 computer science teachers.


Mobile Gaming for Hackers

Popular handheld gaming consoles such as Sony PSP and Nintendo DS enrich the commutes of subway and schoolbus riders alike. For many, satisfaction comes just as much through writing games as from playing them. Until recently, the main mobile gaming platform accessible to programmers who don’t work in the gaming industry has been J2ME (Java 2 Platform, Micro Edition) for PDAs and cellphones.

But things are looking up for would-be mobile game developers. A Korean company, Gamepark, has just released its Linux-based mobile gaming device in the United States. Available for a while now in Asia, the GP2X sports PSP-like specs with dual 200-MHz processors and 64 MB of RAM. It also plays a variety of audio and video formats. To many, however, the most attractive feature is its open API, which allows hobbyists to try their hand at building games for the powerful mobile platform. The company provides a free developer’s toolkit. Also of note is the GP2X’s support for several open source game console emulators, providing instant access to thousands of classic arcade games. Will the GP2X ever catch the attention of the PSP masses? That might not matter, as the platform’s main appeal is its intrinsic hackability, a feature that Sony and Nintendo are unlikely to provide.



Originally published in Queue vol. 4, no. 5
see this item in the ACM Digital Library


© ACM, Inc. All Rights Reserved.