What the Ultimate Collection of Selfies Can Tell Us About Worldwide Narcissism

By Sarah Zhang on at

First came the Tumblrs, then the think pieces, then the distinction of being word of the year. What else could there possibly be for selfies? What about a huge data project analysing how selfies around the world differ in everything from mood to mouthgape to head tilt?

Selfiecity—which compares photos from Bangkok, Berlin, Moscow, New York, and São Paulo—may be the largest data-driven exploration of selfies yet. Lead by Lev Manovich, a professor at the City University of New York, the project has a distinctly academic bent. The data visualisation is accompanied by, yes, three more thinkpieces about the theory of selfies.

The selfies themselves, all 3,200 of them, were downloaded from Instagram during a nine-day period in December. Then they were sent to Mechanical Turk, where the selfies were tagged with estimated age and mood. Here are some of the main findings sorted by city. Muscovites and New Yorkers, as you might expect, are a dour bunch compared to the other the cities.

Cultural Stereotypes As Revealed By The Ultimate Collection Of Selfies

Cultural Stereotypes As Revealed By The Ultimate Collection Of Selfies

Cultural Stereotypes As Revealed By The Ultimate Collection Of Selfies

Cultural Stereotypes As Revealed By The Ultimate Collection Of Selfies

You can play with the whole dataset in the Selfiexploratory. For example, if you only want to see selfies of angry-looking men, well here you go.

Cultural Stereotypes As Revealed By The Ultimate Collection Of Selfies

Find anything interesting? Let us know in the comments. [selfiecity]