Support

Support for this project was provided by:

Sarah Higgins


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About "I Know Where Your Cat Lives"

Welcome to today's internet—you can buy anything, every website is tracking your every move, and anywhere you look you find videos and images of cats. Currently, there are 15 million images tagged with the word "cat" on public image hosting sites, and daily thousands more are uploaded from unlimited positions on the globe.

I Know Where Your Cat Lives is a data experiment that visualizes a sample of 1 million public pics of cats on a world map, locating them by the latitude and longitude coordinates embedded in their metadata. The cats were accessed via publicly available APIs provided by popular photo sharing websites. The photos were then run through various clustering algorithms using a supercomputer at Florida State University in order to represent the enormity of the data source.

This project explores two uses of the internet: the sociable and humorous appreciation of domesticated felines, and the status quo of personal data usage by startups and international megacorps who are riding the wave of decreased privacy for all. This website doesn't visualize all of the cats on the net, only the ones that allow you to track where their owners have been.

Thanks for letting us be your cat fan headquarters; keep the pictures coming.


Privacy Policy

Some things that are important for you to know:

  • We do not store usernames.
  • We do not share your information.
  • We do not sell your information.

To remove your image from this website simply increase the privacy settings on your own public photos.


FAQ

How did you get all the pictures?

It’s simple, really. But not so simple, really. We procured the images by running a query for public photos tagged with cats from the APIs provided by Flickr, Twitpic, Instagram, and a few others.

How can I remove my pictures?

You have the right to remove your pictures from this website. The way you would go about doing so is by increasing the privacy settings of the photos of your furry feline friends. Then within 30 days your photos will be gone from our site.

Do you really know where my cat lives?

They tend to roam... Every photo on this site was created and uploaded with the locational metadata intact by the original owners. With an estimated 7.8 meters accuracy, if you took a photo of your cat in your home you might find it near that location on the map, or you might not. Every cat we visualize could be accessed just as easily by searching popular photo sharing websites. So, no, we do not know where your cat lives, nor do we care.

What is the point of all this?

We set out on this adventure with a mission in mind: to point out the ease of access to data and photos on the web. We sought to showcase how readily available social media users’ information and snapshots are to the general public.

How did you build it?

HTML5, CSS3, Twitter Bootstrap 3, Javascript / jQuery, history.js, Google Map API, MarkerClustererPlus, MarkerWithLabel, PHP 5, MySQL, Apache, Python, SciPy K-means clustering


Press


Comments from the community

"This website demonstrates why you should never have your location based services enabled on social media sites. You're just inviting criminals to your home."

—Lt. Andy Norris, Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's Office

TV and Radio


Articles

Press in other Languages


Credits

Owen Mundy - Creator, Designer, Programmer

Owen Mundy is a researcher and technologist who investigates public space and its relationship to data. He has an MFA in Visual Arts from the University of California, San Diego and is an Associate Professor in Digital Media at Florida State University. Follow him @owenmundy

Shana Berger - Book Co-Author

Shana Berger ​is an artist, writer and curator who lives and works in York, Alabama. Driven by the idea that art can play in integral role in realizing positive social change, her work blends modes of art, activism and organizing. She is the Co­Director of the Coleman Center for the Arts and a founder of Pop Start, an artistic incubator for economic justice. She is a board member for the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Nicole Kurish - Designer, App Developer

Nicole Kurish is an artist and designer from York, Pennsylvania. She has a BA in Studio Art from Florida State University with a focus on front-end web development and app design.

Tim Schwartz - Technical Advisor

Tim Schwartz is a Los Angeles-based artist, technologist, and activist who makes works of art focused on technology, information, privacy, and how our culture absorbs changes in these areas. He received a BA in Physics from Wesleyan University and an MFA in Visual Arts from the University of California, San Diego.

Alissa McShane - Research Assistant

Alissa McShane is an Information, Communication and Technology major at Florida State University. She worked on this project as part of the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP).

Attribution