The story of my PRfekt failure to analyze the human mind online

This story was originally published on Medium.com February 26, 2014

Mattias Östmar, PRfekt

I dreamed about what I liked to joke about as “Industrial Psychoanalysis”. I had many laughs about me being a looney guy trying to invent a mind-reading machine a.k.a “psykografimaskinen”. I dreamt about actually discovering real knowledge about our collective and individual minds worth spreading to the world over the Internet and via public speaking and, maybe, a book.

My first public announcement of it all was at Daytona Sessions in 2007 (pictured above thanks to @bisonblog) — the presentation (in Swedish) can be watched here.

And so, the time has come to finally give up.

This crazy project has been fun, devastating, ego-boosting, ruining both mentally, physically and economically and career-boosting — all at the same time.

I finally got to see if there was any correlation between my psychographic language patterns and the mentioning of popular people, TV-shows, events etc made jan 2014. It was based on 10 000 Swedish twitteraccounts (Thank you @hampusbrynolf for the original list!) and their collected tweets from about 3 months in 2013, until Twitter changed their API and the code I used (not made by me) went useless. I looked at only the users from which I had collected more than 100KB of text, so it was a pretty good data set in my eyes.

I had some smart friends who know statistics look at it separately and…

There was too little data on popular memes (enough people and text though, probably) to say anything at all, statistically.

I failed. And I give up now.

I thought about this for about 16 years and I spent about 8 years trying to realize this project. I failed about 10 times actually during those years. Failed at getting any validation of this idea, that is. You can read most of the story over at my blog, where I’ve set up a chronological archive of relevant blog posts. All the links on that particular page are broken, and a lot of the texts are in Swedish, so I suppose you will have to be VERY motivated to check it out. 🙂

And now I’m officially giving up. #fail.

And gosh, that feels sooooooo good! I can breath again!

Here’s the rest of the story if you want to know in how many other ways than intended this project was a total

#win

I’ve acted like a looney, and I am pretty darn proud of it. Finally. I’ll let more of that craziness out in new and hopefully more funny (as in haha-funny) ways from now on. I need to relax a little and wind down. And make space for new things in my mental and emotional life. This has taken up too much of my life, actually. It has made me too serious and too tense, and that’s not the person I want to be. So goodbye and thanks for the fish, Mindalyzer. I know you are in good hands and that people will look after you well.

What have I learned?

I’ve learned that when I’ve zipped up all my >5,4GB of docs, snippets of code, data sets, reports and plans what truly fills my heart with joy is all the amazing people I’ve come to be friends, former business partners, collegues, aquaintances and collaborative thinkers and doers together with.

And that I truly have amazing experiences imprinted in me after all this. Experiences from very disparate worlds and thought-frameworks, The Stockholm startup-scene, the new age world, the Advertising-industry, techies, hippies (and tech-hippies), change-agents and people in the midst of the maker-movement. People who do cool stuff and are cool people. Even some people from the defence and security industry.

From a beautiful mix of people in rags living at the edge doing wonderfully crazy stuff to national level politicians and other representatives of serious society. Philosophers, business people, dreamers, dumb-asses and even some “normal” people. Some crazy types that are a mix of all of the above, and yet more type of people.

I’ve learned that we human beings are like prisms with no particular centre.

If you hold us in a different position the light shines in a different color. Sadly, we are not holding each other in different positions enough. We still box each other in in too small categories that makes us shine so much less than what all of us are capable of. I hope the continuing research in how we express ourselves and can work withourselves to grow will free the full human potential hidden in all of us no matter our gender, social role or self-talk.

I’ve learned that I am able to learn and dabble in areas where no one who met me in my early years would have guessed that I’d go. Like learning programming from a fuzzy bear-character over at Khan Academy, which I’m currently enjoying as a hobby. Even though I SUCK at staying with details, following logics and math like I’ve always done. And yet, I now know enough about computers to be able to communicate intelligibly with real developers (at least according to some developers). And run other peoples code on a virtual server, which is WAAAAAY beyound what I could imagine just a few years ago.

I actually enjoy playing with a computer and produce media content and even learn to code JUST FOR THE FUN OF IT.

I never knew that there was fun hidden in terminal windows and lines of artifical languages. Now I know.

And I know now more than ever that I love human language. I still love to read and go into the details of how amazingly imaginative you and me can be when we express our thoughts in words. I love words. Words are manifestations of our thoughts and feelings and that makes me happy, because I wasn’t born with a talent for understanding peoples ways of thinking and feeling. I’ve had to make do with the literal expressions and that, I’ve come to learn during this project and over the course of my whole life, is NOT the whole story of people.

I also take with me that not everything is possible for an individual, but that everything seems to be possible when we team up with each other.

I’m sometimes limited in my individual abilities to relate to people and get things done. Heck, sometimes I even need a therapist. But I’ve learned that

Individuality means limitation, human connectedness means endless possibilities.

And in the end, those darn folks over at IBM beat me to it with psychographic linguistic analysis of social media, and I must admit that they did it pretty well. I’d change a few things of course. But I consider the overall project accomplished and brought out into the wild now. I strongly believe that this is the beginning of a mind-boggling and awe-inspiring new human adventure. And I’m glad to be alive now and able to enjoy the unfolding spectacle.

Thanks for your cheering, caring and all the fun moments, guys!

You can still get access to some of the outcomes of this project at:
typealyzer.com — analyze the Jung-Myers type of a blogger etc.
uClassify.com — direct and API classifiers for values, type and mood.
github.com — the basics and design for a prediction engine in Python.