“Selfiecity” project researches selfies, from Berlin to Bangkok
posted Monday, February 24, 2014 at 3:39 PM EDT
Selfiecity is a research project that has taken the much critiqued "selfie", and performed some deep analyses on who uses it, and how. By profiling users in five major cities, the project has broken them down by age, gender, mood, pose, and more. It's an intriguing trip down the demographics of Instagram, seeing just who it is that's taking their own photo.
The project covers Bangkok, Berlin, Moscow, New York, and Sao Paulo. Starting with a corpus 656,000 images, the photos were eventually whittled down to 640 from each city, each of which was a selfie of just a single person. From there came the data, which you can explore on your own here.
The way the data is classified is very interesting. There's location, age, and gender. Poses are classified by if the subject is looking up or down, left or right, and how much of a head tilt is going on. Are they wearing glasses? Are their eyes and mouth open? What's their mood? All that data for 3200 photographs of people.
What did they find out? Despite the fact that selfies seem to be everywhere, only 3-5% of images on Instagram are actually selfies. They're overwhelmingly more taken by women than men—especially in Moscow. The estimated median age is around 24, people from Bangkok and Sao Paulo are the most likely to be smiling, and the women of Sau Paulo also tend to have the most tilted heads.
There are some issues with the data, though. Much of the codification of the images comes from mechanical turks examining each of them, which even though it was double checked isn't the most reliable possible data. Also, guesses as to age, gender, and mood are bound to be not always accurate.
But even with that caveat, it's a fun set of data, and one that's extremely interesting to explore.