identify city hotspots from flickr pix

I enjoyed this  review article on using flickr pics to identify hotspots in different cities – e.g., london, paris, boston.

Starting with a blank slate, we plotted the raw photo geotags to produce the map in the background and then applied mean-shift clustering to locate the 30 most photographed cities on earth. For each of those cities, we extracted the city’s name by looking for distinctive text tags and found the name of the most photographed landmark within the city. Then we extracted a representative image for that landmark. While the analysis is not perfect—a human would have chosen a more appropriate image of Phoenix than a bird on a baseball field, for example—the result is a compelling summary of North America, produced automatically by analyzing the activity of millions of Flickr users. Maps for other continents, regions, and cities

of the world are available at our project Web site

This analysis is reminiscent of sociologist Stanley Milgram’s work during the 1970s studying people’s “psychological maps”—their mental images of how the physical world is laid out.17 He asked Parisians to draw freehand maps of their city and then compared these maps with the factual geography. Milgram found that the maps were highly variable and largely inaccurate but that most people tended to anchor their maps around a few key landmarks such as the River Seine and Notre Dame Cathedral. He ranked landmarks by their degree of importance in the

collective Parisian psychology by counting the number of times that each landmark was mentioned in the study. Our work is an analogous study, at a much larger scale. It is important to note that we are also dealing with much less controlled data, however, and our results are biased by the demographics of Flickr users.

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