'Watching the World' by Lee Manovich on the Aperture Blog

Eric Fisher, Locals and Tourists, London, 2010. Visualization of photographs taken by locals (blue), tourists (red), or either group (yellow) in London, collected via Flickr. Base map © OpenStreetMap, CC-BY-SA; visualization © and courtesy Eric Fisher

Eric Fisher, Locals and Tourists, London, 2010. Visualization of photographs taken by locals (blue), tourists (red), or either group (yellow) in London, collected via Flickr. Base map © OpenStreetMap, CC-BY-SA; visualization © and courtesy Eric Fisher

"Looking at twenty thousand photographs simultaneously might sound amazing, since even the largest museum gallery couldn’t possibly include that many works. And yet, MoMA’s collection, by twenty-first century standards, is meager compared with the massive reservoirs of photographs available on media-sharing sites such as Instagram, Flickr, and 500px. (Instagram alone already contains more than sixteen billion photographs, while Facebook users upload more than three hundred fifty million images every day.) The rise of 'social photography,' pioneered by Flickr in 2005, has opened fascinating new possibilities for cultural research. The photo-universe created by hundreds of millions of people might be considered a mega-documentary, without a script or director, but this documentary’s scale requires computational tools—databases, search engines, visualization—in order to be 'watched.'"

Read the full article here.