web development

Measuring My Blog’s Emotional Tone with IBM Watson

[Original post, from 2015-12-09:]

I developed a WordPress plugin that shows the emotional tone of blog posts using the “experimental” IBM Watson Tone Analyzer API.

My plugin extracts the contents of a blog post and sends it to the IBM Watson Tone Analyzer API, which returns scores for several attributes, including the three attributes of emotional tone that IBM has found to be most salient, viz. cheerfulness, negativity and anger.

According to IBM:

  • Cheerfulness refers to positive emotions such as joy, optimism, contentment, inspiration, and happiness.
  • Negative emotions include feelings of fear, disgust, despair, guilt, rejection, and humiliation.
  • Anger is a type of negative feeling with strong intensity such as annoyance, hostility, aggression, hurt, frustration and rage.

Finally, the plugin pulls these scores from the API response body and displays a simple bar graph.

The cognitive science behind their analysis is a bit beyond me.  It appears to look for emotitone of post bar chart (using IBM Watson)onally loaded words. For example, if you put the word “lousy” in your post, it will bump the negativity and anger scores way up… (Note how the word “lousy” in this post results in high “negativity” and “anger” scores in the bar chart. )

This product has interesting implications. I’m guessing someone in advertising somewhere is doing A/B testing on copy to see if more “cheerful” ads sell more widgets….

For Further Reading

Rama Akkiraju, IBM Watson Tone Analyzer – new service now available,
https://developer.ibm.com/watson/blog/2015/07/16/ibm-watson-tone-analyzer-service-experimental-release-announcement/ (July 16, 2015).

Update: The State of My Emotional-Tone-Measuring WordPress Plug-In

[Update of 2016-02-26:]

IBM updated the API used by my plugin in February, which broke my implementation of it.

(Such is the nature of using random, free, experimental APIs….)

From “Experimental” to “Beta”

Their Tone Analyzer API has been promoted from “Experimental” status to “Beta”.  The new version adds some significant enhancements.

This WP plugin project was a proof-of-concept done for giggles. No client; no budget.

I consider the concept to be proven and have moved on to the next adventure.


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