Zooming into an Instagram City: Reading the local through social media

Nadav Hochman, Lev Manovich

Abstract


How are users’ experiences of production, sharing, and interaction with the media they create mediated by the interfaces of particular social media platforms? How can we use computational analysis and visualizations of the content of visual social media (e.g., user photos, as opposed to upload dates, locations, tags and other metadata) to study social and cultural patterns? How can we visualize this media on multiple spatial and temporal scales? In this paper, we examine these questions through the analysis of the popular mobile photo–sharing application Instagram. First, we analyze the affordances provided by the Instagram interface and the ways this interface and the application’s tools structure users’ understanding and use of the “Instagram medium.” Next, we compare the visual signatures of 13 different global cities using 2.3 million Instagram photos from these cities. Finally, we use spatio–temporal visualizations of over 200,000 Instagram photos uploaded in Tel Aviv, Israel over three months to show how they can offer social, cultural and political insights about people’s activities in particular locations and time periods.

Keywords


data visualization; Instagram; social media; cultural analytics

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5210/fm.v18i7.4711



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