Social-media platforms like FourSquare and Twitter have been a boon for sociologists and geographers who now have entirely new ways of tracking how we move through cities, where we go, who we are, and even what we think of the world around us. There is one set of social-media platforms, however, that has been tougher to crack for useful data than others: photo-sharing sites.
Their metadata can illustrate where people take photos, and how active they are. But on the whole, how do you aggregate useful data about entire cities and the differences between them from the content of millions of photos on a site like Instagram?
Researchers have been working on this for the past year, and they've just posted some of the initial results from their Phototrails project here.The project is less an exploration of a specific research question, and more a first foray into what we might learn by treating user-generated photography as another source of Big Data.