Measuring the Happiness, Health, & Stories of Society through the Sociotechnical Dynamics of Social Media and Fiction

Tuesday, May 18, 2021 - 1:25pm - 2:25pm
Chris Danforth (University of Vermont)

This talk will describe a suite of physically inspired instruments we've developed to enable exploration of large-scale text data, illuminate collective behavioral patterns, and develop a science of stories. Along with our flagship efforts at and we show how Instagram photos reveal markers of depression prior to formal diagnosis, and Twitter topic dynamics ranked Trump as being more popular than God throughout his presidency. Finally, we present evidence in support of a hypothesis posed by author Kurt Vonnegut, namely that there are only a few emotional arcs (or modes) exhibited by the vast majority of works of fiction. 

Chris Danforth is a computer scientist and an applied mathematics professor at the University of Vermont. He is known for his work with the Hedonometer, a tool developed for measuring collective mood with sentiment analysis. Along with Peter Dodds, Danforth co-directs the Computational Story Lab at the Vermont Complex Systems Center.