A subtitle for this review post could have alternatively been titled “I feel like we can learn a ton from this book”. We Feel Fine is the companion print piece to the site http://www.wefeelfine.org. When a person from a blog publishes the phrase “i feel” or “i am feeling”, We Feel Fine picks up the text and places the post info into their database. From there a person can use the site to filter the info in a number of unique ways. The accompanying book takes some of the more interesting themes that they’ve discovered. The book’s sections are broken into into the five w’s (who, what, when, where, and why). The stories behind the data make the book, however the FAQ in the beginning and their explanation of how they did it in the end are extremely helpful to tie the book together. The book is good, but there’s a couple elements that I think prevent it from being great. With that said if there was only one book I could buy in bulk to give as gifts to my friends and family (a diverse crowd), this would be the it. There’s so many different levels and layers to this book that I don’t know how anyone couldn’t enjoy it.
Before I explain why I don’t think it’s great as it could be, I’d like to explain why I think the book is really good. The method of finding other people’s content was via blogs, basically anyone that spits out an RSS feed. While there’s still a ton of blogs out there, people now are using methods of online self expression that are essentially hidden behind walled gardens like Facebook or sites like Blip.fm. However they were able to capture a ton of thoughts before more people moved on to more locked out directions that paints an accurate time period. While reading about the different ages of the people, or the emotions they were feeling was quite amazing. The authors 50 chosen authour chosen emotions was quite eye opening. Within their format they wrote down Observations about each emotion, pulled out other aspects to the info like Main Reasons, and somewhat helpful Related Feelings. The Observations text was fascinating—I almost wish the text had been expanded. There’s so much to dig into. Main Reasons helped expand on the motivation as to why those emotions were blogged about in the first place. Related Feelings presented interesting info too—every once in a while a really opposite word would show up in the text. For instance a related feeling to Ashamed was Proud.
Some of the fascinating facts that I learned was the a typical day pulls in 10,000 entries. As people age they tend to become happier and more grateful. In terms of contacting people for the book, they reached out to a staggering number of people—12,765, though the number of people that responded and actually agreed was far fewer. Even so there’s so much good info that they’ve turned into a representation of what people were publishing and the feelings involved that I can’t really recall seeing in a book, and making it interesting to read. Other emotions that I found interesting was Beautiful, a related term was Ugly. When I went to the Ugly page, Beautiful wasn’t related like it was the other way. That kind of information is impossible to find elsewhere. At the end of Observations and chapter intros there was a heart that ended the text. Depending on what was written each heart had a different symbolic meaning.
There’s a number of different layers to the output of the design of the book. There’s the typography, the info design and the images. I’m not going to dwell too much on the type except to say I’m not a huge fan of the slab serief chosen. It’s a really nit picky comment from me that should probably be disregarded as the type selection doesn’t hinder the book. I just wish another typeface had been chosen. In terms of info design, the data is visualized in a helpful way. It could have been easy to over design things, but I don’t think that’s the case here. Feeling the Calendar and Clock was eye opening while a Moody Life could have been more better if the type hadn’t been so small. My favourite chart in the book was through the expression of What. The book is quite visual, however the digital images chosen aren’t great in colour quality. Yes, jpgs from sites aren’t great to begin with the dpi sucks, but the lack of colour correction really hurts the overall quality of the book. I don’t mind seeing images of varying degree of pixelation, but the washed out colours becomes an issue when there are so many. The other big piece of info missing from the book is when a feeling is quoted, there’s no attribution. Typically the text is qualified with a general “someone”, “a woman”, “a man” and possibly a location attached to it. I’m sure there’s a very logical reason on why the names were omitted, but from an experience point of view not having a name or date attached to the words lacks the impact it could have had.