What do 1000 images mean?

Questions

Transient

When I posted my 1000 images from Instagram I posed the following questions:

  • What do they say about me? 
  • Is there an agenda or story that they are obviously spinning?
  • How long did I spend taking, choosing and posting them? 
  • How long did I spend viewing them and tracking the likes and comments?
  • How much energy did they use (are they using)?
  • How many minutes of the worlds collective time have been spent looking at them? 
  • Has anyone else seen them all? 

I haven't even come close to understanding how to answer most these especially as I can't get the complete data out of Instagram, so I can only give some measurements and guestimates and postulations. With the deeper ones I can only share my thoughts. But first the easier ones...


Physically in the digital realm

Pixels covered: 374,544,000 pixels or 374.5 Megapixels

That's a pretty big image. The best layout I found was to do a 40x25 grid (see here). Which gives you an full size image that is 24480x15300 pixels. So depending on your preference (if you print it at 300dpi or 72dpi) it gives you a poster that's either 81.6x51 inches (207x130 cm approx) or 340x212.5 inches (863x540 cm approx). Lets go with 72dpi for now, thats around 30 A4 sheets of paper.

So if we change the layout to fit better on an ipad (1 directional scrolling)...
On an old iPad thats means scrolling or paging the screen almost 600 times (1 image high)
Compared to only 150 times on a new retina iPad (2 images high)
Either way that's quite an effort.

Disk space used: 110.8 MB

Which in todays terms is a trivial amount of data, but it would have been a lot of floppy disks. But more importantly it would have taken some considerable time to download over a 56k Modem. Thankfully that doesn't matter much in Northern Europe anymore. But it does in some places and there are times on my mobile when it still sucks. But it's nothing compared to the time needed to view the images.

Time - is tricky (as ever)

So if you were to read the 1 million words these images are supposed to represent, it would take anywhere between 60 and 86 hours (200 or 250 words per minute, source) unless you are World champion speed reader Anne Jones then it will only take you about 4 hours!

But that's silly, what is it really like to view an image on Instagram, how long do I look at an image? So I had a little experiment and have decided that the following incredibly vague and approximate measures will do.

I spend probably 1 second at most to view (or scan) an image, that is enough to see who posted it and assess whether it appeals to me. If it appeals to me I engage with it further, I even read the caption and comments but still only about 5 seconds. If I properly engage with it and even write a comment, then maybe a whole 10 seconds. Not long really, not exactly deep sounding either, but that's the nature of social media - it's snacking and poking and general twitchiness. Now I only have 83 followers and only maybe 20 that probably see every picture (yep, definitely not a social media god). Anyway if they were scanning the pics in the most basic way it would have cost them 28 minutes each (38hours 45mins collective time gone). For those who actually engaged with each image 2hours 20mins each (so lets just use the 20 core followers - that's still 45 hours blown). 

So how long did I spend making these 1000 images, not long at all. If I'd used film and a 35mm camera I'd of spent time choosing the shot, framing it, waiting for the moment, talking the shot, developing it and then printing that perfect print. As it is I take 1000's more pictures that I deem instagramable, even such a disposable media has my built in quality control in overtime. But I can't even begin to guestimate how long I spent capturing each image, they vary so much. Some are quick from the hip and straight to the feed, others waited for, shot and reshot, tweaked in Snapseed, cropped, 'effected' and carefully captioned and tagged. So I've decided to just look at the process. If I can post, without error or changing of my mind, then it takes around 30 seconds per image - thats over 8 hours work, a whole days work!

Energy

I don't know how I can calculate the energy used for this, but it would be very interesting to get a sense of the energy for a single pic, or even 1000. The energy cost of cloud services and mobile seems very remote to the end user, out of sight and out of mind. I think there's a lot of work needed to surface those costs. Here's a link to an interesting piece on the subject

The deeper questions

What do all these images mean, is there a message or an agenda? For me they are the hard questions to answer. Where stats and data always fall short. I've played the designer/artist in the past and everything I created had to be driven by meaning and have a reason to exist, I was never happy with simple aesthetic values, there always had to be more. But with these, and at this time it's not so clear. I definitely have a a reason for this, it might not be a particularly good one or even outwardly known, it might not even be a conscious one, but it's there.

However I think I'm going to save the messy psychological analysis on why I feel the need to share these images with strangers (and friends). I'll leave it for another post along with the content and subjects as they are so intrinsically linked to the why - for now it's a lot easier to hide behind the stats.

1000 images

374.5 Megapixels (size)

30 A4 sheets (printed)

110.8 MB (disk space)

28 minutes - 38hours 45mins collective time (to view)

8 hours work (to make)

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