Friday, June 28, 2013

Trawling Social Media Part 2: Flickr

My adventures in Instagram came to a sudden and tragic halt once I encountered the bugginess of Instagram's media/search function. Other people have been documenting a decline in the number of responses they get to this API call for a few months now (see, for example, here) and at this point I get nothing by Error Code 400 in response to every request. Instagram's locations/search function does work correctly, but only returns 33 Colorado Springs-geocoded images over an eight-day period encompassing the evacuation of more than 20,000 people from that city. Disappointing!

Bereft of data, I've been investigating Flickr today. I found this tutorial helpful in getting started. However, for roughly the same period of time I'm seeing only 96 images being shot within a 5km radius of the center of Colorado Springs. I've posted the bulk of the code here, in case anyone else wants to give it a try.

A sample of the images drawn from my Flickr data pull
If anyone has had different experiences with this, I'd be thrilled to hear it, but I'm willing to tentatively say that if you're going back more than a few months and trying to extract data, you should expect to encounter a lot of bad behavior from APIs. This makes a lot of sense given the focus of these companies, but the takeaway: caveat emptor.

No comments:

Post a Comment