Saturday, 22 May 2010

Emotional metadata

I took part in a workshop last week where the facilitator made reference, en passim, to “emotional metadata”. I immediately thought of Daniel Goleman’s ground-breaking Emotional Intelligence, but there’s no reference to it in Goleman’s book, and I haven’t come across any reference to metadata in this context before. (For those unfamiliar with the concept of metadata, it’s basically data about data, or, crudely, how we label data on the Web to enable searches using those terms.)

I was surprised to find emotional metadata is quite a common phrase, yielding 391 Google hits – or 161,000 if you take away the quotation marks. But on browsing those, I’m not sure what all the fuss is about. In essence, the idea seems to be about developing search routes based on how people feel about stuff, rather than more information-based definitions. This sounds potentially useful, in that we can use it to find related information that makes users feel happy, or nostalgic, or anxious – or whatever. But I’ve yet to see a demonstrably useful application.

In principle, I’m open to any tools that help us gain deeper understanding based on emotional rather than intellectual responses. By coincidence the day after the workshop where this came up, I participated in another, where the facilitator showed a variant of the diagram (left). He was making the point that our feelings influence our thinking, which in turn influences our behaviour. But I think the diagram is flawed, and the point may be made more strongly – sometimes thinking doesn’t come into it at all, and our behaviour is driven purely (even passionately) by our feelings.

This suggests to me we should all be paying more attention to the concept of emotional metadata, and what we can learn from it.

1 comment:

Natasha Vincent, Crazy about personal care! said...

This type of data could help leverage buyer's intent and increase conversions for online marketers.

In an eLearning context, I think knowing a student's emotional motivations will help instructors deliver a better teaching tools.