Mapping the Intersection between Social Media and Open Spaces





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Published on Mar 24, 2015

by Alan McConchie

Earlier this year, Stamen launched parks.stamen.com, a project that collects geotagged social media content within parks and other open spaces in California. We harvest data from four major social media services (Twitter, Foursquare, Flickr, and Instagram), each of which provides a unique view into the different facets of each park, and the diverse communities who enjoy these parks.

We also found that each social network service's public API imposes different constraints on our queries, producing their own intricate geographic patterns. Thus, the quirks of how each API was written result in distinct geometries in digital space that mirror the park users' human geographies in embodied physical space.

In this presentation I will describe the algorithms we use to collect the social media data, built using Node.js and PostGIS, running on Heroku. I will also show the cartographic techniques we have been experimenting with to show how parks are used by the public, and how they are represented digitally. We have been using CartoDB and some advanced CartoCSS techniques for fast and scalable visualization of the harvested social media data.


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