Image Popularity

The past week’s posts have considered “what makes an image memorable” based on an algorithm developed at MIT. It happens that there’s also a MIT algorithm that examines image popularity. The next few posts will take a look at it and ultimately consider what correlation, if any, exists between memorable and popular images.

 Preview of Coming Attractions

Spoiler Alert! A memorable image doesn’t guarantee a popular image – and vice versa. But that shouldn’t come as a surprise. We knew that without MIT’s confirmation.

The MIT image popularity algorithm, in a nutshell:

  • Is based on analyzing 2.3 million Flickr photos
    • To see which got the most views
  • The correlation between the color, composition and subject was examined
    • To determine an image’s likely (internet) popularity In terms of views


Memorable does not equal popular (necessarily)

The first image below is 5X more memorable (76% vs 15%)

but is likely to receive less than 1/2 as many views (7.9 vs 18)

Memorability: 76% Expected views (normalized): 7.9

Memorability: 15% Expected views (normalized): 18

Don’t take either of these algorithms too seriously

They may be indicators, but they’re nothing more

More to come…

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