Manas Kumar, Thinking out Loud

my thoughts & visions for technology

Sentiment Analysis for social engineering

with one comment

Sentimentality - A bunch of smileys sourced from Google Images.

Sentimentality - A bunch of smileys sourced from Google Images.

Many of my readers may find this post rather confusing but I will try my best to keep it simple.

Sentiment analysis is a very new field that has emerged out of the Semantic Web or Web 3.0 as some refer to it. You’ve heard of Web 2.0 but what is Web 3.0?

There are several high level definitions on Google for Semantic Web – but here’s my definition of the semantic web in common English.

Semantic web is a new era in the life of the world wide web where the internet is no longer used as the information super highway or the social hangout space, it will now become an intelligent medium that translates, elaborates, communicates and most importantly moderates all your social interactions with anything via the web.

Remember the popular “the Machine is using us” video put together by social anthropologist Michael Wesch? Well that described how the web has evolved from being 1 dimensional (content only) to 2 dimensional (form Vs content) and now it’s about to become 3 dimensional (form, content and MEANING).

The moment you give MEANING to the content on the web (by that I mean, give the machine the ability to associate meaning with the content) you allow Artificial Intelligence fanatics like me the ability to play with that meaning and present content associated or complimenting the meaning.

For example: In web 3.0, if you ever search for “the meaning of life”, after you have looked at several different options and made your choice of which content you want to read, the next time, developers like us, will be able to manipulate the search results and this time show you specific products (for example) that can meet your need – such as a book written by Deepak Chopra that you can buy from Amazon.

Web 3.0 is also moving in the intruiging direction of Sentiment Analysis. You have heard of signal analysis, network analysis, business analysis – now here’s something different – sentiment analysis.

Sentiment Analysis is a new term that is being used to describe the process a machine goes through to analyse personalised data, understand the meaning and rearrange the environment (online) to suit your sentiment.

Every time you answer the popular question on Twitter (What are you doing now?) – the answer often is a reflection of your current mood. The same goes for status updates on your Facebook wall. I’ve seen people write stuff like “Bored of siting at home, feel like going out but the weather sucks!!!” or “Just got back from a very depressing meeting with X, need somewhere to vent my frustration”.

Now please note, both the above examples are poles apart in the sentiment they highlight. It’s not up to the machine to pick it up, analyse and rearrange the environment.

As soon as the status update hits the server, the Sentiment Analytics (SA) engine rearranges the background of your Facebook to something sunny, a beautiful beach or a great cafe scene and provides links on the right hand side (or wherever) to “Things you can do when the weather sucks!!!”.

On the other hand, as soon as the “vent my frustration” status update hits the servers, the SA engine fires a Facebook notification to all your friends with something like this “Hey guys, Jane is feeling a bit low. She needs you. How about a quick SMS to tell her you care”

The two examples above are extremely basic. There’s a lot more that can be done using Sentiment Analysis, Artificial Intelligence and the Semantic Web – If I were to share it all, you’ll get brain pain – A state of mind when your mind will no longer be able to take any more information and start shutting down (with pain).

Bottom line is this:

  • Should you, as a consumer, be concerned with sentiment analytics
  • Do you see this as a breach of your privacy (even though information is not disclosed to any human, only to machines)
  • By the way, who will regulate and moderate the sentiment analysis protocols? how far can one go before it becomes a question of “Playing with human emotions”?

These are some very important questions that need to be asked (if not answered). Once again, the Machine is using us, The Machine IS us.

Semper Fi…


One Response

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  1. What’s your definition of viral advertising?. Viral advertising signifies distinct items to distinct persons. What does it necessarily mean for you? How have you employed viral advertising to strengthen your enterprise possibly on the web of offline?


    April 13, 2010 at 5:46 pm

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