Mapbox, the San Francisco- and Washington, D.C.- based start-up that
is taking on Google with its growing collection of interactive and customisable
maps, has now released the Geotaggers' World Atlas -- an interactive map that
visualises 10 years' worth of location data from photos uploaded to Flickr.
You can search the full map of the world for your local area
but, to get you started, Mapbox has mapped the world's biggest cities to give an idea of the most visited places
in the world.
The place with the most active map? New York, New York -- of
Mapbox data artist and software developer Eric Fischer said
the project started five years ago when he began retrieving photo locations
from Flickr's search API and drawing lines between the places where each photo
"A cluster of geotagged photos is a good indicator of
the interestingness of a place because it signifies that people went there in
the first place, saw something worth taking a picture of, and put the extra
effort into posting it online for others to appreciate," he said.
"And a sequence of
photos along a route is even more significant, because it indicates that
someone sustained their interest over distance and time rather than taking one
picture and turning back."
The map shows areas of dense activity mapped over streets and
freeways. In this image of Paris, the tourist hotspots around the Seine are
etched over repeatedly, with a long stretch to the left tracking along the
towards the Arc de Triomphe.
In comparison to New York and Paris, this shot of Tokyo shows how spread
out the city is in terms of photo locations. In a blog post explaining the Geotaggers' World Atlas, Fischer kept each major city to a uniform map scale, allowing users
to compare the density and size of each city as well as the relative distance
between photography hotspots.
The Geotaggers' World Atlas doesn't just cover land.
According to Fischer, the process of mapping was "full of surprises"
including those found on the water.
"The red lines on the map (which show where a
photographer traveled between photo sites at a speed between 7 and 19 miles per
hour, based on the time stamps and locations of the pictures) that I had hoped
would identify favorite bike routes turned out instead to reveal scenic
ferries," he said.
Case in point: the ferry ride to Alcatraz in San Francisco.
the map of Venice shows a vivid 'S' cutting through the map where the Grand
Canal divides the city. The map also shows the smaller waterways which branch
off the Canal, though they are less pronounced.
across the world to the home of another Venetian, the famous Las Vegas
Boulevard shows plenty of traffic shuttling up and down the main strip, with
scribbles of activity as photographers duck off the thoroughfare into the major
casinos. The dark patch in the centre of this image matches up with the famous
According to Fischer, Mapbox's latest map-making venture
"has been full of surprises, making me aware of streets, neighborhoods,
and whole cities I knew nothing about before. The separate paths of thousands
of individuals combine to give the appearance of a sketch."
So what might first appear to be a mess of individual lines, could
actually be a map of Hong Kong's famous harbour.