From the blackness of my dark, bleak soul! The most depressed post ever!

Over the years, I've seen a number of attempts attack, malign, regulate, categorize, and otherwise mess with bloggers, blogging, and the blogosphere, but today I stumbled across an entirely new potential avenue of approach.

Apparently specialized software has been developed which purports to psychiatrically analyze bloggers' writing styles, diagnose them as ill, and direct them into treatment. Right now, the software seems to be targeting bloggers with depression:

The program scours blogs for words and phrases, descriptions and metaphors that can indicate the writer's psychological state.

The software's initial test run, which was part of a research study headed by Professor Yair Neuman of Ben-Gurion University's department of education, combed more than 1,000 blog posts written by American bloggers that were online in 2004.

As part of the research, the software was asked to determine what it perceived as the 100 "most depressed" bloggers and the 100 "least depressed."

Wow. That's the most depressing thing I've read in years. Makes me almost ready to contemplate doing what Dave Weigel suggested Matt Drudge do! But I won't, only because I enjoy my foul black moods too much to want to put an end to them.

But as I read this, my mood is blackening by the minute! I'm telling you, there's no hope! As Veeshir often likes to remind me, we are all doomed!

Doomed by this busybody software (which apparently can do just as good a job as the shrinks themselves):

Neuman told Haaretz that the software diagnoses largely matched those of four clinical psychologists who made their own diagnoses based on the blog posts.

"We found an 80 percent match between the automatic identification mechanism of the software and the human diagnosis given by the psychologists," Neuman said.

"A psychologist knows how to spot various emotional states through intuition," he said. "Here we have a program that does this methodologically through the innovative use of 'web intelligence.'"

Neuman said the software could enable mental health workers to identify individuals in need of treatment and to recommend that they seek help.

"What does all of this mean from a practical standpoint?" he asked. "First of all, it shows that the technology is here and available and that it could be put to use."

"In the United States there is a wide-ranging problem with depression," said Neuman. "Through this software it will be possible to contact a blogger and request a general examination of the contents of his blog. If the blogger agrees, he will know whether he needs to seek professional counseling for any possible distress."

Dear Mr. Blogger,

According to our software analysis, your recent blog postings indicate a strong correlation with the indicators of section 311 of the DSM IV. We suggest you seek professional counseling. A copy of this diagnosis will be forwarded to the Justice Department, the IRS, and the ATF. If you own any firearms, we suggest they be surrendered now!

Sincerely, Your Independent Online Software Shrink Service.

I read the piece carefully in the hope of detecting some hint of satire, but unfortunately it was deadly serious. So now I'm feeling depressed. But hey, at least it has no intended military use!

The research and development for the software was funded by the Defense Ministry, yet Ben-Gurion University officials said yesterday the project would not be used for military purposes.

The program is capable of spotting words that express various emotions, like the names of colors that the writer employs to metaphorically describe certain situations. Hence words like "black," if combined with other terms that describe such symptoms of depression as sleep deprivation and loneliness will be recognized by the software as "depressive" texts.

The software can also spot love and vengefulness (or at least thinks it can ).

Men who write prose laden with imagery from nature as well as words like "fire" or "lightning" could be determined by the program to be in love, as could women citing poetry or words related to music.

"The software does not rely on a single context-dependent word, but on a series of words strung together, terms and images chosen by the writer," said Neuman.

Hmmm...

No way to light my fire and too lonely to sleep,

so I prayed for more lightning and I counted black sheep!

And I'm feeling lovingly vengeful too!

halloween09.jpg

As anyone can see, I'm otherwise perfectly normal in every way.

posted by Eric on 06.25.10 at 03:04 PM










Comments

Wish I had woodwork like that.

SteveBrooklineMA   ·  June 26, 2010 11:58 AM

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