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London’s giant Ferris wheel in world’s first Twitter-driven light show

Europe’s tallest Ferris wheel, the UK’s London Eye, is set to take part in what its sponsors are claiming will be the world’s first social media driven light show – controlled by Twitter reactions to the Olympics and Paralympics.

The show kicks off on Friday at 9pm and will continue nightly throughout the duration of the forthcoming Games, lighting up the 135-meter tall Ferris wheel in various colors according to the mood expressed toward the sports fest by British-based users of the popular microblogging site.

A Telegraph report explains that if the general feeling of Olympic-related tweets is positive, then the lights on the wheel will glow yellow. If people are tweeting mainly negative comments, it’ll be purple coloring the wheel. If the British public are split down the middle, it’ll turn green.

As light shows go, this may not be one to stop Thames-side walkers in their stride.

But before we scoff, it should be noted that quite a bit of prep work appears to have gone into making the nightly event possible.

Art and technology outfit Sosolimited, the company behind the 24-minute light show, started tracking Olympic-related tweets in the UK a few months ago and found that the majority of the 20,000 to 60,000 daily posts have been generally favorable toward the Games.

Run by a group of American graduates from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sosolimited – together with British professor and social media expert Mike Thelwall – has come up with an “intuitive algorithm” to follow the feelings of British tweeters, and are now using it to control the light show.

“The algorithm we developed converts real-time social emotions into color and motion and then tweets to the light show,” Sosolimited founder Justin Manor told the Telegraph. “We distil 24 hours of action into a 24-minute visual concert that embodies the emotional peaks and troughs of the day.”

EDF Energy, the wheel’s sponsor, said on its website, “We just want to give everyone a better view of the way we’re all feeling about London 2012.” So here’s to hoping that in the coming weeks the London Eye will be bathed in a happy yellow hue rather than a depressing, pessimistic purple.

[Image: msaunder1972 / Shutterstock]

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