How Flickr Helps us Make Sense of the World: Context and Content in Community-Contributed Media Collections

Lyndon Kennedy, Mor Naaman, Shane Ahern, Rahul Nair, Tye Rattenbury

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The advent of media-sharing sites like Flickr and YouTube has drastically increased the volume of community-contributed multimedia resources available on the web. These collections have a previously unimagined depth and breadth, and have generated new opportunities — and new challenges — to multimedia research. How do we analyze, understand and extract patterns from these new collections? How can we use these unstructured, unrestricted community contributions of media (and annotation) to generate "knowledge". As a test case, we study Flickr — a popular photo sharing website. Flickr supports photo, time and location metadata, as well as a light-weight annotation model. We extract information from this dataset using two different approaches. First, we employ a location-driven approach to generate aggregate knowledge in the form of "representative tags" for arbitrary areas in the world. Second, we use a tag-driven approach to automatically extract place and event semantics for Flickr tags, based on each tag's metadata patterns. With the patterns we extract from tags and metadata, vision algorithms can be employed with greater precision. In particular, we demonstrate a location-tag-vision-based approach to retrieving images of geography-related landmarks and features from the Flickr dataset. The results suggest that community-contributed media and annotation can enhance and improve our access to multimedia resources — and our understanding of the world.

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