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Think measuring sentiment in social media is difficult? Try using it to power a light show on one of London’s most iconic landmarks. But that’s exactly what EDF Energy has decided to do for this year’s Olympic Games: it’s measuring the sentiment in tweets about the games and representing the score using lights on the London Eye.
The project, called “Energy of the Nation”, launched last night in London. It uses a sentiment algorithm, the geo-location tag, IP addresses and the places mentioned in tweets to gauge how Twitter users in the country really feel about the Games. The team behind the project, which includes specialists in sentiment analysis, data visualisation and linguistics, has developed a filtering system that will scan Twitter for keywords, links, emoticons and hashtags related to the Olympics and interpret them as either positive or negative. So, if the tweet includes a word like “brilliant”, the system will add points (three in this case). If it mentions words like “failure”, the system will minus points.
The total score for the day, calculated as a percentage, will be shown on the London Eye at 9pm each night. A 25% positivity score, and only a quarter of the Eye will illuminate. It it hits 100%, you’ll see a full circle of light.
The tweets are filtered in real time, and you don’t have to do anything special to get your tweets included in the count — although including the official hashtag (#energy2012) will increase your chances. Twitter users who prefer smiley faces and exclamation marks to actual words aren’t excluded either — the algorithm can “read” punctuation marks just as well.
The nightly show will also play out the high points of the day’s Olympic events in lights — if a British team wins a medal, the Eye will be lit up in white, blue and red lights and echo the Union Jack.
Not in London? There’s also an interactive map on their website that allows you to monitor the nation’s feelings on the Olympics from a distance, and see which sports and athletes are trending.