Saturday, April 30, 2016

Thesis proposed!

One step closer to graduation, and also a step closer to making a really neat and useful thing.

In a noun phrase: neighborhood guides, built from people's public social media posts.

In a sentence: I'll build guides to city neighborhoods out of people's public social media posts, to help people traveling find places to stay and places to hang out.

In a presentation: here! (11mb pdf) If you would rather read a more boring document, you can do that too I guess, here.
Usually I think a presentation to give and a presentation to read should be two different things. The presentation should be more visual, less words. But, you can't trust a roomful of academics to listen to you, so you have to put the words on the slides too so they can read them and tune out. And the presentation pdf linked here includes my speaker notes, so it might be somewhat comprehensible.

If you don't want to read a long document or talk, here's a summary:

Tourism's changed over the years - people used to all want to relax ("sun and sand"), then some of them wanted to see sights ("cultural tourism"), and now some of them want to be more active in guiding their own experience and discovering a place themselves ("creative tourism"). Guidebooks are mostly aimed at cultural tourists ("here are the sites to see, here are the top N hotels to stay in, etc") while creative tourists want to know more about the neighborhoods.

I'm developing a model of what creative tourists want based on 24 interviews (so far). It looks like they want something like this:
Aesthetic appeal
The "Ideal Everyday" - a picture of everyday life but focused on when you're relaxed and can explore at your leisure
Authenticity - ... whatever this means to you

So based on those six dimensions, I'm going to mash together crime statistics, census data, Walkscores, Flickr photo autotags, Yelp Third Place reviews, and Tweets to show you a guide of the neighborhood.

To help you narrow down your search (there are a lot of neighborhoods out there!), I'll start off with a comparison to neighborhoods you already know. So "I live in Pittsburgh, I'm going to San Francisco, show me a neighborhood that's like Bloomfield." And then it will show you the top N most similar neighborhoods, and why they're similar.

More details in the paper and talk, but that's the idea.