Given all the pageantry of politics, why not judge elected representatives on the one thing that sums up everything else: their facial expressions.

Smiley_Face_SmallWe judge our elected representatives on lots of things: voting record, message consistency, rhetorical ability, charisma. Given all the pageantry of politics, though, it’s sort of shocking that it hasn’t occurred to us to judge them on the thing that pretty well sums up everything else: their facial expressions.

Well, okay, maybe that’s not the best way to judge them. But it’s a funny way. And, courtesy of mandatory congressional portraits and some open APIs, we now have a tool to do it. Dan Nguyen, a developer/journalist at ProPublica, made use of Sunlight Labs’ Congress API, The New York Times’ Congress API, and Face.com’s facial detection algorithm to gather senators’ images; to size the images to consistency; to break down the images according to “face coordinates”; and then to use those coordinates to determine the relative smiliness of each senator’s photo.

Ten Most Ambiguous Smiles:

  • Sen. Inouye (D-HI)
  • Sen. Kohl (D-WI)
  • Sen. McCain (R-AZ)
  • Sen. Durbin (D-IL)
  • Sen. Roberts (R-KS)
  • Sen. Whitehouse (D-RI)
  • Sen. Hoeven (R-NC)
  • Sen. Alexander (R-TN)
  • Sen. Shelby (R-AL)
  • Sen. Johnson (D-SD)

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Source: Megan Garber | The Atlantic