Friday Roundup: Let’s get emotional… a milestone for PR and marketing

A very interesting thing happened at the end of July.

It affects every single practitioner in the public relations industry, indeed practitioners across all marketing disciplines.

And yet I haven't found one reference to it amongst the PR digerati yet, so I'm going to put that right. Now.

The subtleties of digital

At its core, this digital world is just a set of 1s and 0s that have been applied with increasing sophistication and power. It revolutionised the more numerical professions first, such as accounting and engineering in the seventies, before moving through manufacturing in the eighties and retail in the nineties.

In the noughties, "digital" arrived big style in the lives of marketing and PR professionals simply because it arrived big style in the lives of the stakeholders we look to communicate with, learn from and influence.

The bleeding edge of "digital" can now be expressed as the kind of things you'd almost think something that was digital would be least suited to. The kind of things that are considerably more subtle than the binary genesis of the digital world. Take our attempts to get machines to understand facial expressions for example, or codify our speech, or indeed simply interpret the sentiment expressed online by millions of people in words and pictures and video.

And so here we are, slap bang in the world of communication, persuasion and influence. We're in the domain encompassing how people feel about things. This is the world of feelings.

Enter EmotionML 1.0 stage left

EmotionML stands for Emotion Markup Language, and version 1.0 of the Working Draft was published by W3C on 29th July 2010.

What is it?

Well let's skedaddle over to Wikipedia for an explanation of the "markup language" bit:

A markup language is a modern system for annotating a text in a way that is syntactically distinguishable from that text. The idea and terminology evolved from the "marking up" of manuscripts, i.e. the revision instructions by editors, traditionally written with a blue pencil on authors' manuscripts. ...Markup is typically omitted from the version of the text which is displayed for end-user consumption. Some markup languages, like HTML have presentation semantics, meaning their specification prescribes how the structured data is to be presented, but other markup languages, like XML, have no predefined semantics.

So that would make Emotion Markup Language an attempt to allow us to markup any emotional content (anything that expresses feelings) with data describing those emotions.

So what?

Well having EmotionML is not the same as using it. That's why I was hosting a workshop in London on the day the EmotionML 1.0 working draft was published looking to do just that. We are looking at practical applications, and the challenges of facilitating the power of EmotionML without bamboozling social web participants. The ramifications are manifold.

If you are interested in finding out more and wish to contribute to this work, please do read my blog post from the workshop and get in touch.

Otherwise, if you just wish to be kept abreast, watch this space :-)

Best regards, Philip and the MarCom Professional team.

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