Science Faculty Spotlight: Lev Manovich

April 12, 2017

Lev Manovich is a GC central line Professor in Computer Science whose area is visualization of social data.

Our new project went live last week - analysis of 7,442,454 Instagram images shared in Manhattan together with Census data: [LINK]

Coverage in Atlantic's CityLab -

"What Instagram Reveals About Inequality in New York City"


Inequaligram was created by Agustin Indaco (PhD student in Economics at GC) and myself, with the support from our lab.

We have three papers based on project findings coming out, including one in Urban Studies and Practices Journal and another in AD (the most prestigious architecture journal in the world).

Project Summary:

What do millions of social media images shared in New York, Bangkok, Sao Paolo, or London tell us about each city? Which parts of a city receive most attention and which remain invisible? How can we quantify and measure these patterns?

Inequaligram project analyzes 7,442,454 public Instagram images shared in Manhattan over five months. We use measures of inequality from economics to understand differences in sharing between parts of a city.

We found a staggering inequality in social media coverage among parts of the city.
%50 of all images by locals are shared in only %21 of the city area.
%50 of all images by tourists are shared in only %12 of the city area.
The inequality of Instagram images by locals turns out to be bigger than inequalities in levels of income, rent, and unemployment. The ratio between a Census tract with most images and the tract with least images is staggering: 250,00 : 1.

These findings are important because visibility of city areas in social media affects city economy and social life. The areas that are well represented attract more people who spend time and money there.
The invisible areas are less likely to be visited.

The dataset used for this study was originally created for On Broadway [LINK] project commissioned by New York Public Library.

Text by Robert Haralick and Lev Manovich