During this summer’s Olympics, the iconic London Eye ferris wheel will light up each night to reflect England’s general attitude toward the Games. How, you might ask, will these sentiments be gauged? Through none other than the greatest barometer of public opinion: Twitter.
An algorithm, developed by a team of American MIT graduates and a British professor from University of Wolverhampton, will sort tweets into two camps: negative and positive. If the overall sentiment is declared positive, the ferris wheel will emit yellow light. If negative, it will shine purple, the Telegraph reports. EDF Energy, the official electricity supplier to the Olympic and Paralympic Games, commissioned the project to create the ‘world’s first social media driven light show.’ The 30-minute spectacle will dazzle above the Thames every night at 9 p.m. London time throughout the duration of the Games.
So with thousands of Olympics-related tweets each day, how will the team accurately categorize by emotion? It’s simple: the algorithm checks the tweets against a dictionary of thousands of terms, each of which has a positive or negative score. The dictionary, much like language itself, is ever-evolving, accounting for the prevalence of slang terms used on Twitter. Common phrases like “OMG” or “totes amazeballs” (translation: “oh my God” and “totally amazing,” respectively) have already been added.
For those of you who won’t be in Britain for the Olympics, unfortunately your tweets won’t be factored in. You can still watch the show live (or recorded, after the fact) here. Here’s hoping every night’s show is even more amazeballs than the last.