Using Flickr Photos as a Travel Guide

Published on July 23, 2010
by Jennifer Valentino-DeVries

Every minute, there are thousands of images uploaded to photo site Flickr by people who want to share them with the world. And it turns out that if you look at these photos and where they were taken, you can get a pretty good idea of the best path to take when sightseeing.

Researchers at Yahoo (YHOO), which owns Flickr, developed a way to gather photos and construct travel itineraries based on the location of the photos and the time between each picture. The tool, which gives people possible itineraries if they select a city and indicate how much time they have, works for five cities — Barcelona, London, Paris, New York and San Francisco.

The effort, which was reported by several technology writers after a conference this summer, combines a few big trends in technology — geolocation, social data and the “wisdom of the crowd.” Social services like Foursquare, which lets users broadcast their location to friends, are making location data a hot topic, and the massive amount of information on social sites like Twitter is something that companies seem eager to use. The researchers call the Flickr photos “social breadcrumbs” — information that people leave behind when they share things publicly online.

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