This is What I Learned About Humans! (interesting stats on Human Brain Cloud)

kids1.gifMy just-for-fun side project Human Brain Cloud, (online game that gives you a word, you type in the first thing that comes to mind, and it builds a big network of connected words etc) has been up for almost two weeks now, and I’ve noticed some interesting trends. Quick perspective: nearly 800,000 associations have been submitted, connecting a little over 100,000 unique words (or phrases). So given that, here are some interesting stats/trends/etc:

  • The Top 10 Most Submitted Words List. Here are the top 10 most submitted words EVER as of right now:

    Go, sex, go! Woo! If this experiment had an scientific credibility, I’d say humans were more horny than narcissistic or greedy.

  • Phrase Completion. I thought this would be a game just for associating words, but it looks like there is some phrase completion happening too. Some are funny. Some are heartbreaking:
    • “I have…”
      • “…no idea” (3 people)
      • “…a penis” (2 people)
      • “…crabs” (1 person)
      • “…failed” (1 person)
    • “I am a…”
      • “…person” (3 people)
      • “…badger” (2 people)
      • “…miscreant” (1 person)
      • “…hero” (1 person)
  • Numbers. An entire sub-cloud of NUMBERS has popped up. Try this: Start from the number 1 and see how high you can count. I got up to around 30 before the sequence broke down. I guess smallish numbers (<30) are generally seen as counting numbers, where larger numbers are seen more as quantities or have other meaning attached. ie. 1337 -> sp33k, 1984 -> Orwell, etc
  • Marketing Messages in the Public Consciousness, leggo my brain eggo! It is scary how certain words appear to trigger loyal marketing message recitation / product related association or whatever:
    • lego -> my eggo
    • tiger -> tony
    • have it -> your way
    • snap -> crackle pop
    • subway -> eat fresh
    • this is -> SPARTA!
    • (there were a bunch more I’m not remembering – anyone see any good ones?)

    But we sure as hell aren’t gonna be happy about it!

    • “Marketing Campaign…”
      • “…money” (4 people)
      • “…evil” (3 people)
      • “…annoying (2 people)
  • Women Totally PWNd Men. This is the first game I’ve made that I think actually appeals to both women and men. If we look at this game as a battle of the sexes, women have totally dominated in terms of both quantity and especially quality of submitted words. And ok – I don’t actually KNOW who’s a boy and who’s a girl, but browsing some of the names on the leaderboards, it is possible to make some good guesses. ie. Congrats to wandergrrl for being the first person to break 1000 words submitted in a single session (and having some of the highest quality connections too)
  • Racism. Type in just about any racial slur you can think of, and you’re sure to find it. Even the plural spellings. I’ve gotten only one complaint – from someone who found a naughty word connected to his religion of choice – and I’m glad he alerted me to it, because it made me solidify my completely hands-off approach in letting the cloud grow and prune itself.
    People do submit garbage – no question. Luckily, each word has “legitimacy points” attached to it. When a word is flagged by users, it’s legitimacy goes down. As people submit and make connections to and from a word, it’s legitimacy goes up. Racism, sexual insensitivity, etc do tend to go away on their own. I guess I’ll be highbrow here and concede that “just like in the real life Human Brain Cloud of life”, little pockets do keep bubbling up. It reprezents society!

Anyway, on that note, I’ll admit that the number one thing that surprised me right off the bat with this experiment is that people are, in general, overwhelmingly funny, friendly, articulate, and willing to play along. I don’t have a lot of restrictions in place in the game. It would have been very easy to turn Human Brain Cloud into a giant dumping grounds for spam and profanity (and of course there is some), but out of sometimes up to 10 words being submitted per second by players, almost ALL of them are high quality words and connections, firmly in the spirit of the game. So thanks, this experiment has been absolutely worth it, and my cold black heart has thawed just a little. :)

79 Responses to “This is What I Learned About Humans! (interesting stats on Human Brain Cloud)”

  1. Markus Says:


    I stumbled on Human Brain Cloud and had a blast with it for some time before I came back the next day to find the site down. :( I thought I had gotten the address wrong, but couldn’t find a link to it anywhere. I had forgotten about it until now.

    That game is pretty neat in its own right. It had be going a few hours that first night I found it. :)

  2. Human Brain Cloud “proves” we think about sex more than money Says:

    [...] What’s the most commonly submitted word? “Sex”, of course. The second most common is “me”, while the third is “money”. Good to know the collective consciousness of the human race has its priorities straight. [...]

  3. Bonnie Ruberg Says:

    Maybe I’m missing something, but how do you go about determining the quality of the responses, or of the connections?

  4. Josh Says:

    You really need to move to a real hosting provider. It would be awesome if I could actually use it.

  5. Jordan Says:

    This game makes me laugh it allows you to see what others people’s sick mind’s can match with you own.

  6. Kyle Gabler Says:

    Bonnie – Strength of connections is determined based on the number of people who independently connect the same words. Strength of a word grows as people independently submit that word (not necessarily for the same connection). A word is not considered legitimate at ALL until multiple people have submitted it. This helps reduce misspellings and spam. Words are not given out to players in the “play” mode if the word does not meet a minimum level of “legitimacy”. Hope that helps!

  7. Xannax Says:

    I liked the game a lot, I have been watching your work since a while, because my deep belief is there’s an enormous artistic potential in video games, and we have not even scratched the top of it yet. I think it is a very interesting project, this, one, from a graphical, social, or video-game point of view.
    One thing thought, about being surprised about the people playing the game…Well, your human sample is not representative of humans; The people who hear about the game are people, like me, wandering on a certain type of forum or newsblogs. I think it would be fair to assume these people have a certain level of education, and of interest in web-based games. If you could have this game as a header in google or youtube, then, my guess is it would be filled with crap. Just my opinion.
    Sorry of the bad english

  8. nectarine Says:

    This game is really really fun. It’s intresting that there is very little actual feed back by the game when in word entering mode, yet we still have heaps of fun.

  9. Max Says:

    I was the one that ‘complained’. It was not a real complaint, just a… warning of sorts. Anyway, my point is that I’m really surprised that I’m the only one! And it had also been much better I have noticed. This is a really great idea!

  10. Jim Greer Says:

    I’m really happy that people but some high-quality play into this thing. It makes me happy. Congrats Kyle.

  11. Jim Greer Says:

    By the way, maybe you should put a text ad on there so you can afford a higher CPU quota?

  12. Kyle Gabler Says:

    Thanks, yeah I know I need to change servers – this is the third one! Either that or optimize php with mad haxor skillz.

  13. Patricia Says:

    This is great fun! I’m a word person so I was very interested to see how others connected. Still don’t understand why more people didn’t submit “hot dogged” for the word “armoured.”

  14. Natalie Says:

    Im a word, song, number plate, sign anything assosiation freak and this site just keeps me coming back for more. I love it :)

  15. Angela Says:

    Fascinating experiment. Thanks! Also, your little people look very Roman Dirge-like (ever read Lenore?). Kudos.

  16. william Says:

    One of the most interesting project I’ve come across so far. The result you find is even more interesting. Wonder how it will go in other languages : )

  17. Heather Says:

    Fun and addicting game.

  18. jupi Says:

    awesome game(?) ! but i agree with the post above.
    “If you could have this game as a header in google or youtube, then, my guess is it would be filled with crap.”

    also may i ask how do you earn making indie games?

  19. Cece Says:

    But what’s the point?

  20. Aidin Says:

    there is so good that when people like me SUCK, there are still people like you to ROCK.
    thank god for that.

  21. Dave Says:

    What a really neat experiment to see into the collective psyche of humanity!! Kind of like some of the other interesting things being done like allowing a machine emulate genetic processes to find the best solution to a problem given a set of rules.

    Now for some lowbrow talk:

    Rock on!! Very Cool!

  22. Joël Says:

    What a wonderful idea. I’m French and don’t want to spoil the game with my very limited vocabulary. What can we do to have a french version of the game ? I can do all the translations for free, could we find an agreement ? Then we would just need a “seed”. Let’s try with “volcan” and watch the cloud grow…

    And again, congratulations !

  23. Kyle Gabler Says:

    Hey thanks!

    Yeah it would be fun to run this in multiple languages, I think I could set that up when I get a little time. Would need some help translating etc though… ;)

  24. Joël Says:

    It’s okay for me, I can translate the package whenever you want me too. Don’t be afraid by my english, my french is good ;).

  25. n0va Says:

    You should at least have another leaderboard for originality. I try to be funny with my words, you know.

  26. Corben Says:

    Isn’t the point of this to type in the very first thing that comes to mind? If you are thinking of clever or funny things to enter, then it is is not necessarily the first thing that you think of.

  27. steve_at_home Says:

    i agree with corben. If it is the first thing one things of, it can be fairly nonsensical. I found myself doing that quite easily. And I am reasonably sane. I think it takes something away from the game if people try to be “high quality”.

  28. The Social Butterfly Says:

    I LOVE this game! While I was raising my son we always played word association and rhyming games, it really helped when he got in school. Now my child is grown and I haven’t played this game in a while. I love “getting back in the groove”. Thanks!

  29. Lily Says:

    I find this playing with word associations a way to gain insight into myself–why am I thinking this way today. It scares me to see so many responses that I can’t begin to relate to!

  30. n0va Says:

    But it is. I really mean it. I have a knack to think of the weirdest things to say.

  31. Sara Says:

    This has been utterly fascinating…

    this coming from someone who is not easily amused.

    Congratulations for coming up with such a unique concept, and for its success!

  32. rumckle Says:

    Yeah, I agree with some of the others, it can be hard to write the first thing that pops into your head, especially if it is a particularly abstract thought or idea.
    Excellent work by the way, it is a great way to waste my life

  33. John B B Says:

    Interesting exercise. Wonder what the results would be by generations (age):

  34. Human brain cloud : Says:

    [...] Alhier wat statistiekjes. [...]

  35. Weird Human Says:

    I never match anyone! Does my brain not work like everyone else’s does? What is going on?

  36. nectarine Says:

    Ya know I’d love to see a single player version of this game. Obviously the brain cloud would take ages to fill, but it’d be fun anyway :)
    Maybe one where you could invite only selected people. I’d play this with my family to see what evolved. I’m sure it would be rather barren, but with the right kind of incentive (comedy?) people would think of inventive ways to link back to previous clouds.

  37. iconolith » Blog Archive » Human Brain Cloud Says:

    [...] The game, the visualization, and interesting stats. [...]

  38. human2910416 Says:

    i guess i am confussed. i did this because I LIKE THINGS LIKE THIS…….but what does it tell me about myself?

    I mean on some level i know about myself….but there were some words that made me think……..

    GREAT IDEA…………
    please keep us informed?????????????????????????

    a little disappointed……………………………………………
    because this was such a neat idea…i guess i wanted the answers before they are available……………………

    does this make me unique or the same????

    is one better than the other?
    i would like to think that being unique is better…………but i am so very lonely………………….that i don’t know……………….

    sometimes i just wish i just one of the crowd………

    but i don’t really want that either………………………

    i want to me.
    and to love me
    i am a good person.

  39. reecer6 Says:

    wow! i typed in “magic” for the word “wand” and got 70 matches! is that a new record?

  40. Humn Brain Cloud - A collaborative game | dub studios Says:

    [...] have been added by users over time. In its own way, it is completely user-designed. He recently posted a blog of the most popular words and phrases hat have been added to Human Brain Cloud (no surprise that [...]

  41. Ric Helton Says:

    I’m glad someone has found a cool and somewhat compelling use for Thinkmap’s cool visualization technology. (Their demo thesaurus is interesting but not worth subscribing just to be able to bounce words around in orbital constellations….) Nice job, Kyle! I played for several minutes before I really looked at what you were doing. Fun. Thanks.

  42. maskandmirror Says:

    I think you should strongly encourage people to use the ‘skip’, ‘junk’ and ‘misspelling’ buttons. The Human Brain Cloud is really cool, and I spend a lot of time adding to it, but at least one entry in three shouldn’t be there, and it is very frustrating! You should probably put something on there asking contributors to only add something if they are sure of the spelling.

  43. Nicolas Miyamoto Says:

    If HumanBrainCloud could accept double-bytes characters (Japanese, Chinese, Korean, etc.), this would more than double the number of potential participants and as a matter of fact offer a more “universal” representation of human mind.
    Long life to this original project.

  44. khanie07 Says:

    speaking of marketing in the public’s subconcious, there was even “Calgon, take me away” !

  45. nicolasmendo Says:

    Also, I would like to point the fact that it makes you feel something really special.
    I get a feeling of freedom and relaxation as I just type whatever comes to my mind, doing no “quality filter” whatsoever.
    amazing proyect.

  46. human xyz Says:

    great, i´m game!

  47. Reading the Media with Robotic Consumerist Brains « Digerati Boombati Says:

    [...] Building a media literacy curriculum seems taxing, among other things, but as the teachers interviewed by Hobbs reveal, their is a great payoff: gratification, pride, a sense of accomplishment. I tend to get bored with things pretty quickly, and honestly, one of my most pressing fears about student teaching in the spring concerns myself getting bored with teaching the same lesson four or five times per day possibly, especially if I’m required to teach my host teacher’s lesson. When the text studied remains the same and the possibilities for discussion are limited, to an extent, I can see myself getting bored. But, the idea of bringing media literacy into the curriculum and having students contribute media texts of many genres and many tastes about many subjects is invigorating and seems like it is likely to remain that way. Just today I came across this Human Brain Cloud, a site which has a word association game and plugs the words into a huge, searchable brain cloud for users to explore. It’s a social experiment, says the creator.  The “game” is quite fun and interesting.  You learn a good deal about the way your brain works in a short period of time, or at least you have the potential to.  It’s very likely that many people play the game thoughtless of the associations they are making, but I’d love to create an environment where potentially a student could come in and show the Human Brain Cloud to the class and examine the way that mass media and, particularly, marketing iconography and slogans have taken over our consciousness.  In fact, the creator of the cloud presented some of his own findings on the brain cloud blog: [...]

  48. Katafrog Says:

    Great work. Simple yet highly effective. This would be a fantastic way to build a social translation engine. One that would reflect real spoken language vs academically correct translations. Just a thought. Thanks again for entertaining us!

  49. Jona Says:

    Thank you, it’s really tripping experience!

  50. Nikmak Says:

    That was excellent. Funny and interesting!

  51. Manuel Says:

    This is too funny. And highly addictive
    i see you can change your name at the bottom, but can you use that name again and again? like a kind of login?
    You could give active members with a login rising credibility, according to how strong their words and connections are

  52. The Human Brain Cloud - word association for the masses | BlogSchmog Says:

    [...] July, Gabler published some early statistics when the network was about one-fifth its current size. The Human Brain Cloud has the potential to [...]

  53. » Have a look inside your brain Says:

    [...] Multiplayer Word Association Game (MMWAG?). Macht Laune – probiert es aus. Hilft uns das weiter? Logo! [...]

  54. Tim Jones Says:

    This game is doing dangerous things to my neurons! But, speaking as someone born in England who now lives in New Zealand, it would be interesting to know how the network differs according to the country of origin of the players. There are associations that come readily to my mind that might not occur to an American, and vice versa. I’d love to see how the networks created by different nationalities differed, if that was feasible. In any case, this is one of the best and most elegant web applications I’ve ever seen – well done!

  55. William Says:

    I’m a little surprised everyone is referring to this as an original, novel idea. The word association game has been on the web and IM for at least 5 years. I personally wrote an AIM/MSN version over 4 years ago after seeing other poorly implemented versions.

    To the creator: there should be no need to flag wrong words or misspellings. The brain should be able to do that on its own, through the link strength mechanism you are describing. Junk works, spam, misspelling should all be filtered to the bottom and appear rarely.

    Also, I have to say the brain isn’t very smart. From ‘fruit’, it came up with ‘imbibed’, from ‘drunk’, it came up with ’430kmh’, from ‘scientist, I get ‘cabbage patch’. Am I missing something? Neither of those make any sense. I can see that it is showing common matches on the right side, but is it actually trying to make smart replies or not, because it clearly isn’t.

    Good try, the interface is simple and nice, but the game could use some “brains”.

  56. Kyle Gabler Says:

    Thanks guys, several people have requested I add support for other languages, so that will be the next big thing when I get some time.

    William – Cool, how did the aim/msn version work out? Yeah, link strength alone is absolutely enough to filter the words. The flagging buttons simply help junk words move away faster, not to mention they act as a bit of an apology to players who might be offended when a naughty word pops up and they want revenge. Revenge in the form of a spam button. It works well for everyone. :) Hmm.. not sure where you are getting those connection results ie. for “fruit” – were you using the “view” page? Try this

  57. William Says:

    Kyle, the aim/msn version worked great, but 90% of the time, I was in a battle with flooders and spammers. Spam was easy to deal with using token and link strength to weed out the junk. But flooders were difficult because, especially with the AIM version, you had to deal with message limits. Anyway, a web version is definitely the way to go. And now I understand the usefulness of your spam button. Revenge can be sweet. :)

    The view page works great. I get words definitely associated with ‘fruit’, like ‘mango’, ‘kiwi’, etc. But with game play, I type in ‘fruit’ and get ‘figure skater’. Again and I get ‘eight nine ten’. I don’t know what’s up with that.

    BTW, if you’re interested, I have a Lost (the tv show) themed version of my word association game at – it isn’t as clean and organized as yours, but it works pretty well. Give it a try if you can. Thanks.

  58. Kyle Gabler Says:

    William – oh yeah, that’s because in the “play” mode, the words you receive are completely unrelated! :) If they were related, play sessions would follow a chain of consciousness, and I wanted to avoid that. My reasoning was that the network would grow wider and more reliably if input words were randomly selected.

    Interesting Lost associator – I hope they are paying you!

  59. William Says:

    Kyle – aha, well that explains what’s going on. I can understand where you’re coming from with wanting a very broad dataset, but isn’t the point of the word association game to demonstrate a chain of consciousness between the user and the game? Obviously, most of the players here are having a good time with the game as is, but for me, if I’m going to be teaching the bot, I’d like to see him demonstrate some intelligence in return. And when I see random tokens come up, it goes against what I’d expect. Humbly, I don’t see the fun in the game unless it is trying to respond in a smart way.

    One of the most interesting things I got out of the Lost association game and my earlier wide-open versions was watching them learn from an empty dataset. I gave it a dozen seed words and then let it learn. It was stupid at first, but depending on the number of players and the minimum token and link strength I required, it learned very fast. And to watch it reach the “tipping point” where it started acting smart was pretty exciting. Anyway, I’m rambling now. :)

    Did you write the Flash link viewer yourself or is it open source? I’m interested in implementing something similar for my games, but I’m a humble programmer and don’t know flash.

  60. shino Says:

    i got the new phrase

    ‘i like pie’


  61. reece Says:

    I assocated “zag” with “zig” and “scoot” with “around the corner” and they’re ALL in the song “bop to the top!”

  62. lon Says:

    From what I’ve read about this experiment/game, it really sounds like people had a blast playing it. I just wish I found out about this mini-game sooner. =(

  63. Jerry Lee Lewiston Says:

    “The Internet is an elite organization. Most of the population of the world has never even made a phone call.”

    Something to keep in mind about the “human nature” question and the top ten. This isn’t the human race you’re sampling from, but narrower group with a strong background. The narcissism is disappointing as ever, but not surprising.

  64. Peter Says:

    Hey Ive been following you for a while, and I love your style, both artistic and creative, Im a fellow EGPer and I was wondering if 2dboy is acepting interns? Now about the game, I had alot of fun playing with a couple of my friends over skype, and Id love to see multilingule support

  65. KILLroy13 Says:

    LOLest Game ever.. =)

  66. Crank Says:

    I made a new game,

    1) think of a word
    2) go to view cloud
    3) try and find it using word association.

    Excellent site, great fun.

  67. Ladyluck523 Says:

    I’ve always enjoyed words and language. This is a fun way to see how you ‘tick’. I’ll be spreading the uh…word :)

  68. Le zapping Google du 21 février 2008 | Qualis Opinions Says:

    [...] un calamar géant ! Il y a des statistiques d’utilisation de cette sympathique machine sur le blog de l’auteur mais aussi en cliquant sur l’onglet [...]

  69. Niru Says:

    Ooh, this sounds great – I await the game’s reappearance with bated breath. :D

    Until then I’ll mope around some.

  70. Sid Says:

    Strangely addictive – Damm you

  71. headlight Says:

    I love the work you do! I love the Zoners who get this far too!

  72. Nostril Soup Says:

    Love the game… must have typed thousands by now! It would be great if you could give us full access to the data somehow though… so we can search for the number of times a words or a specific connection (not just yours!) has been submitted.

    Also would be GREAT (and would require a LOT of work on your part) if you take IP origin into account, and colour the connection lines to show which country has made the strongest connection between the two words. The british, given the word “chips” would probably associate “fish”. Americans (i’m guessing) would favour “dip”. And.. y’know… it’d be nice to have that reflected.

    What else do I want? Ah… yes – the ability to see users who have the highest number of matches phrases with your own, and their nationality. And pic and phone number. Not that I’m a lonely wordophile or anything.

    Also – an additional mode of gameplay, so you can either play “random” (as it is now) or “connected”… so the word you suggest affects the next word your given, and moves along the chain (semi-randomly). If you enter a new word or connection, the chain is broken and you get given a new word.

    Sorry to bother you with my demands, but when I rule the world I’m going to order you to do it anyway, so you may as well get it over with now and avoid the twenty lashes when you’re not programming fast enough.

  73. Webstruxure » Blog Archive » Addicted to Words? Then Beware! Says:

    [...] app was written by Kyle Gabler, and his blog has some interesting musings on what he’s learned from the game. Least surprising fact: “sex” is the word that’s been submitted most often. Most interesting [...]

  74. Wetterdew Says:

    I want to try it, please…

  75. Ian Flournoy Says:

    Hey I think this is an excellent experiment ….. One thing though can I see the PHP source? :D

  76. Paul Says:

    The site is gone. Safari can’t load it. :(

  77. Jules Says:

    Where did it go? Is it gone forever? I just came across a reference to it and it sounds fascinating!

  78. moonvalleymama Says:

    I miss you. Where are you??? Have you totally forgotten about us cloudy brains??

  79. Josefa Buckle Says:

    Dans la recherche de sites liés à l’hébergement web et plus spécifiquement la comparaison plan d’hébergement web Linux, votre site a été soulevée. :)