Internet Geographer


Posts tagged maps
Mapping Flickr

Flickr is one of the world’s most popular photo sharing websites, and represents a key way in which people form impressions about different parts of our planet. In other words it is an important part of the digital augmentations of places

Antonello Romano has been doing some great work mapping content from the site, and I’ve pulled some of his data together into this map. What we see are huge differences in the amount of images augmenting different parts of the world. To anyone familiar with some of our previous research, this will be unsurprising. But it is again perhaps the scale of some of these differences that never ceases to astound. 

I’ve shaded each country as a percentage of the USA’s total rather than as absolute numbers, so that this digital information inequality can be better visualised. You can see, for instance, that there are only five countries in Africa that have more than 0.1% of the USA’s total number of photos about them. 

These geographies of information matter: they shape what is known, and what can be known about a place. And even in our age of connectivity, large parts of the planet remain left off the map. 

Mapping the EU Referendum on Twitter

With the British Eu Referendum vote looming, we decided to take a look at what the sentiment for the remain vs. the leave vote looks like on Twitter.

The map above takes all geotagged tweets that were sent in great Britain between April 15 and June 14 and filters them by pro-leave hashtags (#leave, #britainout, #voteleave, #betteroffout, #no2eu) and pro-remain ones (#hugabrit, #strongerin, #bremain, #pleasedontgouk, #voteremain, #yes2eu, #betteroffin, #ukineu). It was put together by myself and my Oxford Internet Institute colleague Graham McNeil

When doing this, we see that most of Great Britain’s Twitter users are far more likely to be using leave rather than remain-related terms. Indeed Scotland is the only part of the country with more remain tweets than leave ones.   

London and Yorkshire come close to parity, with only slightly more leave sentiment than remain sentiment. But the rest of the country is awash in leave tweets. Two parts of the country are even home to twice as many leave tweets as remain ones. 

Because we know exactly when each of these tweets was sent, we could easily see how particular events in the last few months sparked leave and remain activity in different parts of the country (however, this is work for another day).

There are some obvious weaknesses with this approach: we may be missing some key hashtags; use of hashtags isn’t necessarily a good predictor of sentiment (although with the tags we used, I’d argue that it isn’t necessarily a terrible one); and a single tweet could be counted in both camps if it included at least one remain and one leave hashtag.   

If this map does accurately predict the outcome of the forthcoming referendum, and Scotland is indeed the only part of the country favouring a remain vote, it is likely that we’ll be seeing another referendum soon.  

Geographies of Information Inequality in Sub-Saharan Africa (new publication)

A new publication of ours in now out in  The African Technopolitan. Graham, M., and Foster, C. 2016.  Geographies of Information Inequality in Sub-Saharan AfricaThe African Technopolitan. 5. 78-85.

The piece draws on some of our previous empirical research to reflect on what connectivity means to inclusion in the ‘network society.’ Connectivity certainly isn’t a sufficient condition for inclusion and equity, and we need to ask whether it is a necessary one.

Connectivity, rather, tends to be an amplifier: one that often reinforces rather than reduces inequality. We therefore need to move towards deeper critical socio-economic interrogations of the barriers or structures that limit activity and reproduce digital inequality.  The categorisations developed in the paper offer an empirically-driven and systematic way to understand these barriers in more detail.

Mapping the GeoNames Gazetteer

Stefano De Sabbata and I recently finished mapping the GeoNames Gazetteer, and you can see the full description of results and our maps at the OII’s Internet Geography website

Gazetteers are frequently employed to geocode information from news or social network streams, and GeoNames is one of the largest and most frequently used dictionaries. A more detailed representation of areas afflicted by conflict or disasters may therefore result in these topics being found to be disproportionately prominent in datasets. Similarly, areas that are characterized by very few geographic representations are likely to become stuck in a vicious cycle of informational inequalities. By not appearing in the gazetteers themselves, they are unlikely to ever become present and visible in other geocoded datasets.