UVM scientists create ‘Hedonometer’ to measure happiness

first_imgIn 1881, the optimistic Irish economist Francis Edgeworth imagined a strange device called a “hedonimeter” that would be capable of “continually registering the height of pleasure experienced by an individual.” In other words, a happiness sensor.His was just a daydream. In practice, for decades, social scientists have had a devilish headache in trying to measure happiness. Surveys have revealed some useful information, but these are plagued by the unpleasant fact that people misreport and misremember their feelings when confronted by the guy with the clipboard. Ditto for studies where volunteers call in their feelings via PDA or cell phone. People get squirrely when they know they re being studied.But what if you had a remote-sensing mechanism that could record how millions of people around the world were feeling on any particular day–without their knowing? Large-Scale HappinessThat’s exactly what Peter Dodds and Chris Danforth, a mathematician and computer scientist working in the Advanced Computing Center at the University of Vermont, have created.Their methods show that Election Day, November 4, 2008, was the happiest day in four years. The day of Michael Jackson’s death, one of the unhappiest.Their results are reported this week in the Journal of Happiness Studies.”The proliferation of personal online writing such as blogs gives us the opportunity to measure emotional levels in real time,” they write in their study, “Measuring the Happiness of Large-Scale Written Expression: Songs, Blogs, and Presidents,” [LINK TO http://www.springerlink.com/content/757723154j4w726k(link is external) ] now available in an early online edition of the journal.Their answer to Edgeworth’s daydream begins with a website, wefeelfine.org [LINK TO http://www.wefeelfine.org(link is external) ] that mines through some 2.3 million blogs, looking for sentences beginning with “I feel” or “I am feeling.””We gathered nearly 10 million sentences from their site,” Dodds says. Then, drawing on a standardized “psychological valence” of words established by the Affective Norms for English Words (ANEW) study, each sentence receives a happiness score. In the ANEW study, a large pool of participants graded their reaction to 1034 words, forming a kind of “happy-unhappy” scale from 1 to 9. For example, “triumphant” averaged 8.87, “paradise” 8.72, “pancakes” 6.08, “vanity” 4.30, “hostage” 2.20, and “suicide” 1.25.The sentence “I feel lazy” would receive a score of 4.38. “Our method is only reasonable for large-scale texts, like what’s available on the web,” Dodds says. “Any one sentence might not show much. There’s too much variability in individual expression.” But that’s the beauty of big data sets and statistics.”It’s like measuring the temperature. You don’t care where the atoms are,” Dodds says. “You want to know the temperature of this room or this town. It’s a coarser scale. We’re interested in the collective story.”The Temperature of the BlogosphereThough blog writers do tend to be somewhat younger and more educated than average, they are broadly representative of the US population, writing from most everywhere with an even split between genders and high racial diversity.Since many blogs are connected to demographic data, Dodd’s and Danforth’s approach can let them measure the rise and fall of happiness of, say, people under 35 in California on Wednesdays, and compare to other places, age groups, and days.”We were able to make observations of people in a fairly natural environment at several orders of magnitude higher than previous happiness studies,” Danforth says. “They think they are communicating with friends,” but, since blogs are public, he says, “we’re just looking over their shoulders.”Though their method which they also apply to song lyrics, presidential speeches, and, recently, to Twitter messages is generally focused on how writings are received rather than what an author may have intended to convey, it does allow them to estimate the emotional state of the blog authors.””We are thus able to present results of what might be considered a very basic remote-sensing hedonometer,” they write (using a slight variant on Edgeworth’s spelling).Election Day 2008 showed a spike in the word “proud.” “That was the biggest deviation in the last four years,” Danforth says. “To have proud’ be the word that moves the needle is remarkable.”In contrast, the day of Michael Jackson’s death and the two following were some of the unhappiest, showing a significant dip in average valence scores. Each year, September 11 gets a dip, as does September 10, “in anticipation of the anniversary, we suppose,” says Dodds.Interestingly, their results run contrary to recent social science data that suggest that people basically feel the same at all ages of life. Instead, Dodds and Danforth’s method shows a more commonsensical result: young teenagers are unhappiest with a disproportionate use of “sick,” “hate,” “stupid,” “sad,” “depressed,” “bored,” “lonely,” “mad,” and, not surprisingly, “fat.” Then people get happier until they are old, when happiness drops off.The Tracings of MindsOf course, there is an ocean of philosophical questions to swim when trying to understand happiness. Though people regularly rank happiness as what they want most in life, what is it, really? Plato argued that achieving happiness was our true goal in life but recent studies suggest many people are bad at doing what makes them happy. Why? And what of the Buddhist perspective that all life is suffering? Is happiness simply a feeling?Though Francis Edgeworth hoped to measure happiness, “exactly according to the verdict of consciousness,” all science has to work with today are the tracings of a mind, not a literal mind-probe. New techniques in neuroscience seem to be moving closer to such a tool, but “we don’t know what is going on in people’s heads, really,” says Dodds.”Our study is a data exploration,” says Danforth. “It’s not about developing a theory.””The big picture for me is this: I have a daughter who is three,” he says, “She is going to grow up and fall in love without as much body language or visual cues. She’s inheriting an electronic world. We want to develop tools to understand that world.”Peter Dodds and Chris Danforth’s study, “Measuring the Happiness of Large-Scale Written Expression: Songs, Blogs, and Presidents,” [LINK TO http://www.springerlink.com/content/757723154j4w726k(link is external) ] will be permanently available in an open-access edition of the Journal of Happiness Studies.A video [LINK TO http://www.uvm.edu/~pdodds/research/video/index.html(link is external) ] of a lecture by Peter Dodds on this research is available on his website.For more information, contact Peter Dodds ([email protected](link sends e-mail)) or Chris Danforth ([email protected](link sends e-mail)).Source: UVM 07-23-2009last_img read more

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Winter Wonderwalls: Peter Max, b.j. spoke, Grumman Gallery

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Over the holiday season people often tend to have more time off and more reason to do something indoors that might take them to some place they never expected—even if it’s only in their mind’s eye. What follows is an arbitrary assortment of some of the more interesting offerings in the art and cultural scene on Long Island. But don’t wait until spring—or they’ll all be gone like melted snow.Nassau County Museum of ArtLet’s start with one of the more unusual solo shows on the roster, unusual in part because we never associate black and white with the psychedelic palette of colors used to perfection by the great pop artist Peter Max, whose distinctive style that he pioneered in the Sixties when he first befriended the Beatles has continued to influence our culture in so many ways today. Billions of people have seen his colorful creations, from the cosmic to the fanciful, and millions have taken his work home in some form or another, making him one of the most commercially successful artists in the world. He’s done U.S. postage stamps and Super Bowls, the World Cup and even the World Series. His work is owned by more than a thousand museums.But thanks to the inspiration of Karl Willers, the enterprising director of the Nassau County Museum of Art, who curated this never-before-seen, in-depth look at Max’s original drawings, we can see for ourselves that Max is fundamentally a prolific drawer in black and white first, then a colorist. It’s an inspired choice because these drawings let us glimpse how this iconic artist actually approaches a canvas. He picks up a pen, watches black lines emerge on a white sheet of paper and then take shape in his mind. Sometimes the shapes become purple birds, gleaming rainbows, pink sailboats or the iconic blue-suited “Cosmic Runner,” striding over a green planet in wide orange boots, a yellow star shining on his back and a yellow top-hat with a maroon lightning bolt on his head.Sometimes it’s something darker. The exhibition includes about 119 drawings as well as 60 paintings.Prolific pop artist Peter Max shows off his colorful palette with his classic “Cosmic Runner” at the Nassau County Museum of Art.Peter Max’s album cover for Alice Coltrane at the Nassau County Museum of Art.Peter Max’s 1980 drawing takes center stage at the Nassau County Museum of Art.“The beauty is that I have a rectangular piece of paper and I start composing on the paper so the shapes are all different from each other,” he tells the Press, from his studio on West 65th Street across from Lincoln Center.“Then a drawing comes out of it. I never know where I’m going with it, so I get surprised. I love it!”As for his more commonly seen posters, lithographs, prints, album covers, and paintings, he says, “I have a tremendous love and sense for color. Sometimes I use a lot of flat colors with an outline, sometimes I paint with heavy thick brushes and there is no outline so it’s very painterly…Wherever I think the art wants to go is where I go.”Max is commonly mistaken for doing the animation of Yellow Submarine, but that was really an homage to him done by the animator Heinz Edelmann, who literally called himself “The German Peter Max” on his business card.As Max recounts it, he was annoyed at first by Edelman’s imitation but then he realized it was a compliment.“He was such a fan,” Max says. “I said to him, ‘Look, I really like what you did and it’s okay you’re inspired by me, but do me one favor, Hans, take my name off your card!’”Max may have his flatterers but no one can imitate his unique background.Born in Berlin as Peter Max Finkelstein, his Jewish parents fled the Nazis when he was a toddler and found refuge in Shanghai, before moving to New York and settling in Brooklyn. Now 75, he is constantly drawing “every day, from the time I wake up until I go to sleep…I always have a pad near me, on an airplane, everywhere.”Before making the selection for this exhibition, Max went through “hundreds and hundreds” of drawings.Helping him make the cut was the noted art historian, Charles A. Riley II, Ph.D., author of The Art of Peter Max, an important book about the celebrated artist.“His influence is still everywhere, in art, in fashion, in graphic design,” says Riley. Here’s the chance to look inside the mind of “a very important figure in pop culture,” he adds.“There have been tons of Peter Max shows in color,” says Riley. “Living color is his idiom, really.” Riley applauds Willers for showing him in black and white, bringing out drawings that have been sitting in the flat files in Max’s studio for years, and then putting them up on display. “I think it’s a really bold show…This is the most original way to go about a Peter Max survey, so it’s good to see.”Do the drawings hold up with his color work? Riley believes it does.“For those who like art and drawing, and especially are interested in the process of art, there’s an intimacy to it,” Riley says. In other words, he explained, before there’s a final image that goes into a commercial print run to be mass produced, there’s a special moment captured only once in each of his drawings.“Instead of the quantity, this is one on one,” Riley enthuses, “and I think that’s what makes the show valuable… One drawing, for one moment, and for one viewer.”Max says his “closest relationship to art” is through his drawing. Then comes painting. But the process is always ongoing.“I look at my palette, I’m creative; I look at my pen and paper, I’m creative,” says Max enthusiastically. “I listen to music, I can get creative about it… Creativity is, like, the biggest gift. Look, what do we call our whole thing? We call it creation, right?”Indubitably.The Peter Max show runs until February 23 at the Nassau County Museum of Art, which is at One Museum Drive, Roslyn Harbor. To check for times, call 516-484-9338.Art patrons see another dimension at Huntington’s b.j. spoke gallery’s annual holiday show.b.j. spoke galleryOur next exhibit features a group show of local artists who may not be as well known around the world as Peter Max but they are no less dedicated to their artistry as shown by their annual “Holiday Sell-a-bration of Fine Arts and Crafts,” a tradition going back decades. Thirty artists, all members of the co-operative gallery, have their works on display and for sale, with prices ranging from $50 to $1,000, all specially reduced for the holidays. The styles run the gamut.“The artists are all different,” says Katherine Criss, a painter and a photographer who is currently the co-op’s vice president. “You never know what to expect when you walk into the gallery—that’s what’s wonderful about it. It becomes a festive marketplace for art.”Criss, who went to the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, said she uses “the photography medium as a painter uses paint…with layered images.”To become a member of the gallery, artists have to get their work first approved by the co-op. Then they become eligible for a solo show. For the holiday sale, each co-op member gets about four feet of space in the gallery’s three rooms, so the pieces tend to be manageable rather than gigantic. There promises to be a wide assortment of ceramics, jewelry and flat work as well as a few solid pieces on an art stand.Art patrons “can take it right off the wall and take it home,” says Criss.But they have to pay first, of course.The holiday sale runs seven days a week through Jan. 12 at b.j. spoke gallery, which is at 299 Main St., Huntington. For gallery times call 631-549-5106.Giovanni DeCunto’s “Steve Jobs” portrait is on display at the new Grumman Gallery in Bethpage.Grumman GalleryAn ambitious new art space has opened up in Bethpage appropriately named the Grumman Gallery. Internationally renowned expressionist painter Giovanni DeCunto shared the grand opening honors with the popular landscape photographer Asia Lee. The Gallery is located in Suite 1 of Grumman’s Suites at 500 Grumman Road West.“Grumman Gallery will be a hub for exhibitions of all kinds and all mediums: photography, digital art and more,” said Vanessa Ferrelli, the new gallery’s owner. The centerpiece of the show is DeCunto’s “The Spirit & The Modern,” which explores the duality of “our innermost selves and our nearly fanatical obsession with celebrity, the afterlife and technology,” according to Ferrelli.“’The Spirit & The Modern’ is both transformative and provoking, while Asia Lee’s landscapes show us the beauty of a non-digital environment,” said Ferrelli. “Those are two completely different experiences that we’re inviting our guests to have.”For more information on this show, which will be running through December, contact Michelle Chorney, the Grumman Gallery’s director, at 917-387-7277 or go to www.grummangallery.com.last_img read more

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4 easy ways to impress your IT examiner

first_imgYou never get a second chance to make a first impression. On your next IT exam, take a minute to put your best foot forward with some simple items you can prepare and present to get the process off to an impressive start.  Here are 4 places to start:1. Document IT policies and proceduresMake the examination process easy on the examiner by having everything documented, and they will be easier on you. According to the FFIEC Handbook, “It is the responsibility of an institution’s board and senior management to ensure that the institution identifies, assesses, prioritizes, manages, and controls IT risks as part of the business continuity planning process. The board and senior management should establish policies that define how the institution will manage and control the risks that were identified. ”Aside from exam prep, what would happen if your IT person is sick, goes on leave, or quits?  Not having a well documented IT plan in place can leave your credit union in real trouble, and not just with your examiner. One documentation we recommend is a self IT risk assessment: Letting your examiner know that you are aware of the risks and have evaluated your risk tolerance will impress him/her from the start. continue reading » 11SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

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Coronavirus spreading now in Korea has its origin in Europe, US

first_imgThe novel coronavirus spreading in South Korea now has its origin in Europe and the US, health authorities said Monday. The variant belongs to the GH clade, which is usually found in Europe and the US, according to an analysis on genome samples. This implies the virus could have been imported into Korea by those who entered Korea from those regions in March and April. “As we interpret it, the virus belonging to the GH clade is circulating recently because we had many arrivals from Europe and the US in March and April, and the virus imported then is now driving community transmissions,” said Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Jeong Eun-kyung, at a briefing. The variants found in the genome samples in February and March, when the country saw hundreds of cases linked to a church in Daegu and hospital in North Gyeongsang Province at the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak here, belonged to the S clade and V clade. The virus in the S and V clades were circulated largely in China, where the coronavirus is believed to have originated from, and other parts of Asia. Touching on recent study results on the possibility of airborne spread of the COVID-19, Jeong said that the measures to prevent the spread of the virus stays the same, calling on the public to stick to the basic rules such as avoiding enclosed, populated environments, wearing masks and washing hands. This came after 239 scientists from 32 countries called on governments to acknowledge the aerosol transmission of the COVID-19 and take control measures in an open letter to be published this week. On Monday, Korea reported 48 more COVID-19 cases as the country continues to see small-scale outbreaks, infections coming from overseas as well as an increasing number of cases with unidentified routes of transmission.Half of the new cases, 24, were locally transmitted and the other half were imported. Of the locally transmitted cases, seven were registered in Gwangju in connection with a previously identified Buddhist temple cluster. Five cases were reported in Gyeonggi Province, five in Incheon, two each in South Jeolla Province, Daejeon and Seoul, according to the KCDC. Seven more people tested positive for the coronavirus in connection with the temple in Gwangju, bringing the number of related total infections to 87, according to the KCDC. A surge in cases in South Jeolla Province, which surrounds Gwangju, led the provincial government to tighten social distancing measures. Under the “social distancing level 2,” gatherings of 50 or more people indoors or 100 or more people outdoors are banned, and wearing masks is mandatory when using public transportation. Of the total cases reported in the past week, infection routes for 10.7 percent of the cases remain unidentified, Jeong said, adding “quiet transmission” among those in their 50s or over is taking place in the community. Korea reported 24 additional imported cases, 21 of them were from Asia and three from the Americas. Some 15 people detected at the airport quarantine screening and the rest while under quarantine after they entered the country from abroad.Out of the country’s total 13,137 cases, 11,848 people, or about 90.2 percent, were released from quarantine after making full recoveries. Some 1,005 people are under quarantine. One more patient died, bringing the death toll to 284. The overall fatality rate stands at 2.16 percent. The country has carried out 1,297,367 tests since Jan. 3, with 21,292 people being tested as of Monday.  Topics :last_img read more

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