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Foursquare - Rio de Janeiro - Feb 24- Mar 2, 2012 | by GSAPP_SIDL
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Foursquare - Rio de Janeiro - Feb 24- Mar 2, 2012

Social Media and the Psychological City


Social media are increasingly becoming part of our everyday lives, from connecting with friends and sharing images to exploring cities through location-based applications.


Sites such as Foursquare and Facebook allow us to spatially mark our explorations in the city, creating rich databases that hold digital imprints of our interactions. To analyze these traces, the Foursquare and Facebook Application Programming Interfaces (API’s) were used to access location-based data to determine where social media users broadcast that they are “Here Now”. Analysis of this geographic data exposed the psycho-geography and economic terrain of New York City’s social media users.


Foursquare users tell us how they feel but they also provide valuable land use and economic information for cities where this information can be hard to obtain. These maps of Mexico City, Moscow, Mumbai, Rio de Janeiro, Beijing, and Tokyo allow us to compare how Foursquare users operate in these cities, but more importantly expose urban economic patterns that might not otherwise been seen.


Looking at these global cities provides a sense of how people travel around the city, where there are employment and commercial centers, and seasonal preferences – such as the indoor malls in Moscow. In Tokyo and Mumbai, the infrastructure of the transportation system is clearly visible as the nervous system of the city. Social Media can provide rich data about urban form and land use which is otherwise unavailable for many cities around the world – providing a new tool for research about how people respond and interact with cities in a way never before achieved.


Spatial Information Design Lab

Project Lead: Sarah Williams, Co-Director Spatial Information Design Lab

Research Associates: Juan Francisco Saldarriaga (Project Manager), Georgia Bullen, Francis Tan, Noa Younse, Bryan Valentini

Student Researchers: Fatima Abdul-Nabi, Adare Blumenfeld, Caitlin Hackett, Jen So Godzeno, Alex McQuilkin, Tiffany Rattray, Carlos Salazar Echavarría, Fred Sham, Nathan Tinclair

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Taken on March 26, 2012