This photo was the cause of my receiving an extraordinary email written in the finest New Age techno gobbledy gook. The sender seemed to think
a)I would know who Sep Kamvar and Jonathan Harris are and
b) that I would care.
(it turns out that they are students of "human feelings from a large number of weblogs" who construct "playful interfaces" out of "art").
The message read
Hi, I'm contacting you today because I'm working with Sep Kamvar and Jonathan Harris on a book about feelings on the web. We found an image on your blog that we found beautiful, and we wanted to get your permission to use it in the book. The book is based on the website We Feel Fine (http://www.wefeelfine.org). In return, we will give you a free copy of the book, signed by the authors, and an invitation to the book launch when the book comes out. A description of the site is below. I'd love to hear back from you and if you provide a mailing address, we can send you a permissions form.
Since August 2005, We Feel Fine has been studying human feelings from a large number of weblogs. Every few minutes, the system searches the world's newly posted blog entries for occurrences of the phrases "I feel" and "I am feeling". When it finds such a phrase, it records the full sentence, up to the period, and identifies the "feeling" expressed in that sentence (e.g. sad, happy, depressed, etc.). The result is a database of several million human feelings, increasing by 15,000 - 20,000 new feelings per day.
Using a series of playful interfaces, the feelings can be searched and sorted across a number of demographic slices, offering responses to specific questions like: do Europeans feel sad more often than Americans? Do women feel fat more often than men? Does rainy weather affect how we feel? What are the most representative feelings of female New Yorkers in their 20’s? What do people feel right now in Baghdad? What were people feeling on Valentine's Day? Which are the happiest cities in the world? The saddest? And so on.
At its core, We Feel Fine is an artwork authored by everyone. It will grow and change as we grow and change, reflecting what's on our blogs, what's in our hearts, what's in our minds. We hope it makes the world seem a little smaller, and we hope it helps people see beauty in the everyday ups and downs of life.
Thank you very much for your time,
We Feel Fine only collects and displays data that was already posted publicly on the World Wide Web. We Feel Fine never associates individual human names with the feelings it displays, though it always provides a link to the blog from which any displayed sentence or picture was collected. Also, bloggers may make a blog post invisible to the We Feel Fine crawler by including the following code somewhere in the post: nofeelings. Finally, you may request for an image to be taken down from the site by e-mailing email@example.com.
We Feel Fine is an independent project conceived and created by Jonathan Harris and Sepandar Kamvar. It bears no affiliation to any company or organization.
As if anyone in their right mind wants to "make the world seem a little smaller".
I have always felt it is best if no one knows what is in my heart and my mind (for one thing it puts off girls).
I replied, as follows, to this meaningless waffle. I could not bring myself to start with a hi in the style of the original sender
Thank you for your enquiry about the imageThe cheekiest part of the letter was the part that explained that it was up to me to put code into my webpage to prevent their webcrawler hijacking my images.
You are mistaken it is not a beautiful image. It was not meant to be. I am sorry but I cannot allow you to use any image of mine that you so misconstrue. Any attempts to do so will result in contact with my solicitors and also my horse whip.
YOU MAY NOT USE THE IMAGE.
I recommend that as many people as possible put the following sentences into their blog "I feel nauseous at the whole concept of wefeelfine.org . I feel horrified at the usage of the English Language by Matt@wefeelfine.org . I feel threatened by the attempts to deify the previously unknown Jonathan Harris and Sepandar Kamvar." Hopefully the webcrawler will get the message.