Archive for the ‘EmotionML’ Category

Emotion Markup Language 1.0 (No Repeat of RDF Mistake)

Sunday, May 25th, 2014

Emotion Markup Language (EmotionML) 1.0


As the Web is becoming ubiquitous, interactive, and multimodal, technology needs to deal increasingly with human factors, including emotions. The specification of Emotion Markup Language 1.0 aims to strike a balance between practical applicability and scientific well-foundedness. The language is conceived as a “plug-in” language suitable for use in three different areas: (1) manual annotation of data; (2) automatic recognition of emotion-related states from user behavior; and (3) generation of emotion-related system behavior.

I started reading EmotionML with the expectation that the W3C had repeated its one way and one way only for identification mistake from RDF.

Much to my pleasant surprise I found:

1.2 The challenge of defining a generally usable Emotion Markup Language

Any attempt to standardize the description of emotions using a finite set of fixed descriptors is doomed to failure: even scientists cannot agree on the number of relevant emotions, or on the names that should be given to them. Even more basically, the list of emotion-related states that should be distinguished varies depending on the application domain and the aspect of emotions to be focused. Basically, the vocabulary needed depends on the context of use. On the other hand, the basic structure of concepts is less controversial: it is generally agreed that emotions involve triggers, appraisals, feelings, expressive behavior including physiological changes, and action tendencies; emotions in their entirety can be described in terms of categories or a small
number of dimensions; emotions have an intensity, and so on. For details, see Scientific Descriptions of Emotions in the Final Report of the Emotion Incubator Group.

Given this lack of agreement on descriptors in the field, the only practical way of defining an EmotionML is the definition of possible structural elements and their valid child elements and attributes, but to allow users to “plug in” vocabularies that they consider appropriate for their work. A separate W3C Working Draft complements this specification to provide a central repository of [Vocabularies for EmotionML] which can serve as a starting point; where the vocabularies listed there seem inappropriate, users can create their custom vocabularies.

An additional challenge lies in the aim to provide a generally usable markup, as the requirements arising from the three different use cases (annotation, recognition, and generation) are rather different. Whereas manual annotation tends to require all the fine-grained distinctions considered in the scientific literature, automatic recognition systems can usually distinguish
only a very small number of different states.

For the reasons outlined here, it is clear that there is an inevitable tension between flexibility and interoperability, which need to be weighed in the formulation of an EmotionML. The guiding principle in the following specification has been to provide a choice only where it is needed, and to propose reasonable default options for every choice.

Everything that is said about emotions is equally true for identification, emotions being on one of the infinite sets of subjects that you might want to identify.

Had the W3C avoided the one identifier scheme of RDF (and the reliance on a subset of reasoning, logic), RDF could have had plugin “identifier” modules, enabling the use of all extant and future identifiers, not to mention “reasoning” according to the designs of users.

It is good to see the W3C learning from its earlier mistakes and enabling users to express their world views, as opposed to a world view as prescribed by the W3C.

When users declare their emotional vocabularies, those are subjects which merit further identification. To avoid the problem of us not meaning the same thing by “owl:sameAs” as someone else means by “owl:sameAs.” (When owl:sameAs isn’t the Same: An Analysis of Identity Links on the Semantic Web by Harry Halpin, Ivan Herman, Patrick J. Hayes.)

Topic maps are a good solution for documenting subject identity and deciding when two or more identifications of subjects are the same subject.

I first saw this in a tweet by Inge Henriksen