Mood Mapping – the highs and lows of street life.

A few evenings ago I was chewing over some ideas which might make a good punt for the 21st Century News Challenge. As you do with these things I was getting a little giddy.

Wouldn’t it be fantastic, I thought, if you could map a neighbourhood by how people feel? It would not only give people living there a sense of how their neighbours are, it would also give public services valuable information on what lifts people’s moods and boosts security, and what provokes fear or anxiety.
I was toying with with technology involving mobile phones – perhaps a neighbourhood text line, where you could send a smiley (or the opposite), which knows the location of the phone? Extra text could be added as tags.

So a quick Google found Christian Nold’s work on Bio-Mapping. (hat tip to architect Rob Annable.) Christian is an artist who combines skin sensors which detect mood with global positioning kit and mapping software. Anyone wearing his kit can walk through their neighbourhood leaving a trail of emotion which can later be viewed on Google Earth. They can also add information about specific places – which may help identify why they felt what they did. Those taking part are in my mind a new form of citizen journalist – the ultimate mood blogger.
The potential for this as a means to get under the skin of a community is enormous. Refine or revise the technology and you can offer an almost instant mood exchange among people.

Would this be insanity – a more insidious version of cctv – or a new way to measure and influence social cohesion and or capital?


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