Silicon Feelings is web app that displays all the icons tweeted by the global population in real time.
It seems these days, that everything needed to be said, can be said with an emoji. The little icons have becoming essential in text conversations to distinguish sarcasm from seriousness and other nuances that are difficult to convey in written language. Now developer Bradley Griffith has created a web app that shows Emojis tweeted from around the globe, in a poignant meditation on a universally-shared language.
Silicon Feelings tracks in real-time emojis that are being used on Twitter and displays them on a rotating digital globe. There are some limitations to the web app – to streamline and avoid buggy-ness – so only tweets that are geo-tagged are included, and Griffith limited the number of Emojis the app would recognized to the top 400 (out of 800 available).
Silicon Feelings emerged out of Griffith’s own experimentation and desire to work with Emojis. He had previously worked on other personal projects, the now defunct Undetweetable, which made deleted tweets visible, and EnemyGraph, which allowed people to become ‘enemies’ on Facebook. Both seem to have a strain of misanthropy, but Griffith tells PSFK:
When I worked on Undetweetable and EnemyGraph, I never agreed that either of the projects were for innately negative applications. Both projects were intended to provoke their users, and to that end they do fall on a darker end of some spectrum, but those qualities in them were only there in order to instill something more hopeful.
For Griffith, Silicon Feelings is in line with his other projects, although the emotional element is slightly less ambiguous. He says:
With Silicon Feelings, the project’s emotional element was more in the design. If I had simply made Earth with the Emoji appearing on it – floating in space on a bootstrapped webpage – it might have looked completely in line with the current popular attention towards Emoji. Instead Earth is suspended in dusty air, the social buttons are absent, and the Tweets associated with each Emoji go undisplayed. With Silicon Feelings I wanted to present a sort of silent observation of the stories we can’t know, even as we align ourselves further under technology.
The rotating globe is hypnotising to watch as you see little faces and hearts, both broken and in-tact, pop up from around the world. Seeing beer glasses clinking makes you smile, and a sobbing face makes you wonder about the person behind the sad yellow face. Although emoticons cannot express everything, they can certainly express a lot more across traditional language boundaries. For Griffith, they are a beginning. He says:
There is something to be said for the limits presented by caricatured representations of human emotions, but for me, Emoji represent an important early step in the direction of tearing down our language barriers – which is something we are going to need as we move forward into our future. I’m happy to be alive at this time to see it.
[h/t] Prosthetic Knowledge