Los Angeles as a digital place: the geographies of user-generated content

2020-02-21T11:42:36Z (GMT) by Stefano De Sabbata Andrea Ballatore
Online representations of places are becoming pivotal in informing our understanding of urban life. Content production on online platforms is grounded in the geography of their users and their digital infrastructure. These constraints shape place representation, that is, the amount, quality, and type of digital information available in a geographic area. In this article we study the place representation of user‐generated content (UGC) in Los Angeles County, relating the spatial distribution of the data to its geo‐demographic context. Adopting a comparative and multi‐platform approach, this quantitative analysis investigates the spatial relationship between four diverse UGC datasets and their context at the census tract level (about 685,000 geo‐located tweets, 9,700 Wikipedia pages, 4 million OpenStreetMap objects, and 180,000 Foursquare venues). The context includes the ethnicity, age, income, education, and deprivation of residents, as well as public infrastructure. An exploratory spatial analysis and regression‐based models indicate that the four UGC platforms possess distinct geographies of place representation. To a moderate extent, the presence of Twitter, OpenStreetMap, and Foursquare data is influenced by population density, ethnicity, education, and income. However, each platform responds to different socio‐economic factors and clusters emerge in disparate hotspots. Unexpectedly, Twitter data tend to be located in denser, more deprived areas, and the geography of Wikipedia appears peculiar and harder to explain. These trends are compared with previous findings for the area of Greater London.