How happy is your city?

Festival of the Mind
Festival of the Mind
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You could be forgiven for thinking that happiness can’t be measured, and perhaps it couldn’t before - but it can now.

Sheffield professor, Dr Chris Blackmore, has made it his mission to do just that, creating a visual display in the city centre to show just how happy Sheffield is as a city.

Dr Blackmore, a teacher and researcher in University of Sheffield’s School of Health and Related Research, teamed up with Dr Mark Stevenson, a senior lecturer in computer science, to analyse social media activity on Twitter and used that data to create a live digital display that is reflective of the city’s general mood. The display will be presented at Millennium Gallery and projected in Barkers Pool for 11 days later this month as part of the University’s Festival of the Mind.

Dr Blackmore said: “We can look at the language in all the Tweets currently being put out by people in Sheffield and, using some clever computer wizardy, analyse their contents and the amount and type of emotion in each one. We’ve then teamed up with our friends at Human Studio who’ve created us a set of emojis that reflect the general mood based on this anaylsis. This emoji, along with a selection of about 50 of the most recent Tweets will be projected out to the people of Sheffield to give them an idea of how their city is feeling at any one moment.”

The #happysheffield event is just one of the highlights of Festival of the Mind, which runs from September 15-25. Dr Blackmore and Dr Stephenson will be giving a talk on their project, in the Spiegeltent at Barkers Pool, on September 22 from 5.30pm, when they will be explaining how studies like this could be used, on a more serious note, to benefit mental health care.