The Inauguration: Most User-generated Content Ever?

obamasynthMicrosoft is hoping people will use Photosynth to document the inauguration. In partnership with CNN, they’re asking people to upload 1-3 pictures, no more than 10MB each, and email them. The result will be a three-dimensional record of the event.

That’s a lot of data. Having millions of people with cameras taking a picture at the same time gives Photosynth a lot to work with. I’m going to make an educated guess how much.

There are around 2 million people going to the inauguration (an astonishing 0.6 percent of the entire population). Let’s assume that one-tenth of those people are in eyeshot of the event, having cameras whose pictures are a useful vantage point.

How big will those picture files be? Well, the cameras at the event have a wide range of resolutions (and file sizes), with modern cameras clocking in around 8MBytes. I’m going to assume around 800 KBytes, compressed, which is fairly typical from what I see on Flickr.

That’s 38 Gigabytes of pictures Photosynth could have to chew on if this project gets attention.

Think about it another way: If each person there with a camera takes 50 pictures, some 250 million images — around 18.6 terabytes of data — is going to make its way to Flickr, Picassa, and other cloud storage areas.

In other words, the inauguration may represent the greatest influx of user-generated content onto the Internet, in one day, ever.

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