The Seven Flickr Wonders of Toronto
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The Seven Flickr Wonders of Toronto

The Hockey Hall of Fame. Photo by amberherself.

Let’s say that you’re wandering around Toronto with a camera. According to a study presented by a quartet of Cornell University computer science students at a conference in Madrid last year, which local attractions are you most likely to post a picture of on Flickr? Based on the findings, a certain phallic-looking landmark comes out on top.

Two of the top-photographed sites in Toronto. Photo by Jösé.

The authors of the survey outlined their mission in the opening abstract:

We investigate how to organize a large collection of geotagged photos, working with a dataset of about 35 million images collected from Flickr. Our approach combines content analysis based on text tags and image data with structural analysis based on geospatial data. We use the spatial distribution of where people take photos to define a relational structure between the photos that are taken at popular places. We then study the interplay between this structure and the content, using classification methods for predicting such locations from visual, textual and temporal features of the photos. We find that visual and temporal features improve the ability to estimate the location of a photo, compared to using just textual features. We illustrate using these techniques to organize a large photo collection, while also revealing various interesting properties about popular cities and landmarks at a global scale.

The survey has gained attention on the web this week thanks to articles on Fortune and Gothamist that focus on the discovery that, based on the parameters of the survey, the midtown Manhattan branch of the Apple Store is Manhattan’s fifth most-photographed attraction. It’s hard to say whether this is due to the store’s architectural merits or a case of the cult of Apple in action. The survey includes a chart of the seven most-snapped sites in twenty-four other cities around the world, including our own. While our local Apple stores aren’t drawing as many shutterbugs as the Big Apple’s, the following spots are (with links to related pictures in the Torontoist Flickr pool): CN Tower, Nathan Phillips Square, Yonge-Dundas Square, Royal Ontario Museum, Eaton Centre, Union Station, and the Hockey Hall of Fame.
All photos from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.