Tag Archives: manovich

Exploring Urban Trends through Selfies

Vintage Selfie

The term ‘selfie’ took on a life of its own in 2013, especially after the Oxford English Dictionary selected it as the ‘international word of the year’. The Internet and mobile phones were awash in self-portraits as consumers purchased more smartphones with front-facing cameras – turning the selfie into a truly worldwide phenomenon.

Now, the Software Studies Initiative –– led by UCSD Comp Sci professor Lev Manovich –– has been working on a project called selfiecity, which investigates selfies using a mix of quantitative, theoretic and artistic methods.  Looking at five cities around the world, they randomly select 20,000-30,000 photos per city, per day.

Here are some of their findings:

  • People take less selfies than often assumed –– depending on the city, only 3-5% of images analyzed were actually selfies.
  • Moscow is at the bottom of the selfie smile index. (Bangkok is at the top.)
  • In every city analyzed, there are significantly more women selfies than men selfies.
  • Men over 30 share more selfies than women over 30. “Women may take them, but they don’t post them.”
  • And it’s a young person’s game. The median selfie age is 23.7 years.

What will they look at next? Perhaps Manovich will compare selfies taken in cities with those taken in suburbs or rural areas … or selfies that have professional polish with those of a more casual nature.

[The image above is from the Museum of the City of New York.]