Beautiful Japan: Visualizing subjective landscape perceptions

Vlad Atanasiu, 2012.01.24

These figures illustrate both the potentialities and the problems lying ahead of a study in modeling subjective worlds. It represents in colorcode the degree of beauty of places in Japan from an Internet perspective, dark being more beautiful. The maps were generated by extracting placenames and their coordinates from the Geonames website, prefixing them with the adjective "beautiful" and counting the number of occurrences on the Internet via the Yahoo! search engine API (now BOSS), then rendering the results as density map in the ArcGIS mapping program, the workflow being automated in Matlab. The dark dots in South Hokkaido and North of Kyoto appear to reveal the most beautiful places in Japan, but the popularity of these areas centered on the localities Date and Obama are artifacts. A search on "beautiful Date" gets a Japanese placename mixed with the English term for a romantic meeting and in "beautiful Obama" a toponym becomes homonymous to a patronymic. The need for a linguistic processing of the search results is evident.

Beautiful places
Web search terms: "beautiful" + [placename]

Ugly places
Web search terms: "ugly" + [placename]

Most Beautiful places
Difference between the two preceding maps

Beautiful places for French people
Web search terms: "beau" + [placename]

Beautiful places for English people
Difference between English and French results for "beautiful/beau"

Population density

Gran Paradiso, Italy
Waqwaq - mapping cultural geographies
Vlad Atanasiu · Waqwaq: Mapping cultural geographies ·