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The Inauguration: Most User-generated Content Ever?

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obamasynthMicrosoft (s msft) 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.

4 Responses to “The Inauguration: Most User-generated Content Ever?”

  1. The photosynth product is very cool and enabled a potentially valuable recording of the historic moment.

    In a different kind of presidential user-generated content, a much more intimate site launched on inauguration day:

    The site’s aim is not a display of technical power. It is a display of unlikely individual connections formed during the campaign and in the kind of civic/community service that president Obama is fostering. is a moderated story sharing site featuring personal accounts of people’s connections with total strangers during the course of the Obama campaign and while taking part in community service efforts. The goal is to inspire people to see the power and worth of stepping outside of their lives and engaging with people over issues directly.

    Often the bulk of the coverage in this area is on the issues, the policies, the politics, the winning and the losing. focuses on the personal and the intimate side of getting involved. In ways both large and small, engaging outside of one’s comfort zone can be a life-changing, perspective-shifting experience. was created to help preserve and share these stories for the change they represent and the future they will inspire.

    It’s not so whiz-bang, but the individual impact of each story has the potential to ripple out in more meaningful ways.