Thursday into Friday, my head cold got worse, so on Friday morning I walked down to a bar-cafe-restaurant in my neighborhood. I had been there for a few hours when youthful, vigorous men and women wearing Business Semi-Formal started quietly going one by one among the customers sitting near me. They would crouch, adopt an expression of deep sympathy, and say something. The customer would look a little confused, pick up laptop and coat, and move to another table.
Next to me, cafe staff had made a long table by pushing three smaller tables together. Five Millennials sat around it. They were well-dressed like Ryan Seacrest is well-dressed, and they seemed nervous. The head of their table hadn’t been filled. I had assumed someone important, someone hoity-toity, would be coming, someone like a foundation executive director.
This was a little bit annoying, but my legs ached and the Internet was spotty and I wanted to go to a different, better coffee shop, so I asked for the check.
Then a man, another of the handsome ones, came by.
“Hey,” he murmured. “Will you be leaving soon?”
I said I wasn’t sure. I’d asked for the check.
“Okay,” he said. “I just wanted to let you know the president will be stopping by.”
Oh, I thought. The president of what?
“You’re welcome to stay, but one of our agents will be coming around to swipe you.”
Then I understood.
Read more. [Image: Pete Souza/White House]
If you’ve ever been confused about how you’re feeling, and it happened to be the 1970s, you could always count on the mood ring. The jewelry fad claimed to read wearers’ levels of anxiety or ebullience by measuring body temperature.
Today there’s a more reliable—but equally far-out—app that performs a similar function: the clmtrackr, a new emotion-analysis tool created by a Norwegian computer scientist named Audun Øygard.
You turn on your webcam, stare into your screen, and the program will tell you what emotions you’re experiencing, and in what proportions, from anger to sadness to joy.