Out of Recession

Out of Recession (Socioscan)

2004 Internet platform (SocioScan project), multimedia installation

Project contains: IRC chat server, web interface.


About 5 years ago many serious market analysts made attempts to explain the continuous uninterrupted growth of US economy with theories about breaking out of the model of economic cycles growth and recession. Most of these analysts connected this phenomenon with the emergence of the “new” economy of revolutionary and innovative business models. Most of the young people working for this new economy embraced the idea.

The suspicions that there was a chance that Western economy has gotten rid of recession started appearing after the bubble of “new” economy burst, but after the social and political catastrophe of September 11, the current “anti-terrorists war” around the globe and the triumph of yet another global recession, the defendants of the theory of the economic cycles can relax.

This is just one, but for sure not the last example how mad and unpredictable could be the “global brain”.

Out of recession installation explores the erosion of the emotional communication in the real life and its re-settlement in the virtual environment in Internet.


SocioScan is a system for scanning and mapping of information that people exchange in virtual communication, particularly in chat rooms. The methodology is reminiscent of the medical test for the detection of sociopathic disorders, where a brain scanner is used to indicate in real time the mutations in the brain functions, based on the reactions to emotional words and/or images.

The project scans and visualizes people’s communications in the chat rooms through a statistical analysis of the use of various keywords with emotional meaning in selected chat channels on the Internet. The output is a colourized clustering map, operating with: size, colour and brightness, representing in real time the changes in the use of listed emotional words. The visual aesthetics of the map is similar to the image of the human brain, created by the PET (Positron emission tomography) scanner.

Thus the SocioScan project is scanning and mapping the intellect, emotions, the normality or/and sociopathy of the “global brain”.

For the project’s purpose a special IRC bot has been developed. It operates in the chat channels, indicating the use of key words with emotional resonance. The keywords are given to the bot in an advanced list in order to recognize them. The user can reinforce the activity of chat channels by spreading out sentences that include some words with emotional resonance and also to add words from the web interface.

Whenever the bot detects the use of one of the keywords, it streams a report to the server that visualizes in real time the statistic trough web interface. The visualization system of the project uses the Treemap algorithm – a space-constrained visualization of hierarchical structures, developed by the Human Computer Interaction Lab, University of Maryland.