Facebook tracks national happiness

Pretty interesting. Facebook announced today that it tracks the aggregate mood of the country, based on the negative or positive words that millions of Facebookers use in their updates. The blog where I first read of it, ReadWriteWeb, does some interesting probing into possible ramifications of this and of the data that Facebook is NOT sharing.

Turns out, for example, we were happier on Thanksgiving than on Christmas, according to their chart. And other tidbits are in there. I assume we’ll start to see periodic references to this in news stories that already bandy about “the mood of the country,” though Facebook users cannot be a wholly representative sample.

I’m fascinated by the study of happiness — as carried out by this professor, for one, at Cal State-Long Beach, whose Web site offers a questionnaire to evaluate your condition and thoughtful words on what makes up happiness. It’ll be interesting to see where this goes.

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