[Humanist] 28.397 an Instagram'd social upheaval

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Wed Oct 15 07:45:42 CEST 2014

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 28, No. 397.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Tue, 14 Oct 2014 15:01:36 +0000
        From: Lev Manovich <manovich at softwarestudies.com>
        Subject: First project to investigate the use of Instagram during a social upheaval: the-everyday.net

New research project by Software Studies Iniative (http://lab.softwarestudies.com/)

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A Revolution Next Door: 144 Hours in Kiev


The Exceptional and the Everyday: 144 hours in Kiev is the first project to analyze the use of Instagram during a social upheaval.
Using computational and data visualization techniques, we explore 13,208 Instagram images shared by 6,165 people in the central area of Kiev during 2014 Ukrainian revolution (February 17 - February 22, 2014).

Visualization showing 1,340 images with Maidan tags. Each image is repeated multiple times for each of its tags. (Organized by upload time, left to right and top to bottom).

Detail of a visualization showing all 13,208 Instagram images organized by upload date and time  (left to right, top to bottom).

How does a revolution gets represented on Instagram? What can visual social media tell us about the experiences of people during social upheavals?
If we look at images of Kiev published by many global media outlets during the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution, the whole city is reduced to what was taking place on its main square. On Instagram, it looks different. The images of clashes between protesters and the police and political slogans appear next to the images of the typical Instagram subjects. Most people continue their lives. The exceptional co-exists with the everyday.

But as we discovered after working with data, the two do not simply co-exist. Their relationships are more complex and more interesting. Visit the project to see our findings.

The Exceptional and the Everyday: 144 hours in Kiev continues previous work of our lab (Software Studies Initiative - softwarestudies.com (http://www.softwarestudies.com/) ) with visual social media:
phototrails.net (analysis and visualization of 2.3 Instagram photos in 14 global cities, 2013)
selfiecity.net (http://selfiecity.net/)  (comparison between 3200 selfie photos shared in six cities, 2014; directed by Moritz Stefaner (http://truth-and-beauty.net/) ).

In the new project we focus on the content of images, as opposed to only their visual characteristics. We also explore non-visual data that accompanies the images: most frequent tags, the use of English, Ukrainian and Russian languages, dates and times when images their shared, and their geo-coordinates.

Project web site:


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