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Advice from the Locals

Posted September 16, 2017 12:00 AM by M-ReeD
Pathfinder Tags: Algorithm machine learning travel

Having come of age in a town that was (and continues to be) a major attraction for sports enthusiasts, I understand the adolescent joy derived from “screwing” with tourists—giving them wrong directions or directing them to allegedly historic local attractions that would end up being of no great import.

Now, as an adult who has traveled from time to time, I have felt the full-force of karmic justice, being told to eat here or shop there, only to be met with utter disappointment.

Luckily, thanks to researchers at ITMO University, an algorithm has been developed to prevent this kind of misdirection.

The algorithm was developed using the Instagram accounts of locals living in popular tourist city, St. Petersburg, Russia. After distinguishing between locals and tourists, researchers studied the Instagram accounts of the locals noting attractions, restaurants and museums featured on their pages.

"Of course, popular locations for locals and tourists differ, but it was important for us to know how they differ. Guides usually offer tourists a list of 10-15 attractions. However, locals usually know much more. By identifying their favorite places, we can significantly diversify tourists' experience," explains Alexander Visheratin, engineer and head of research at eScience Institute at ITMO University.

“The method developed by researchers at ITMO University gives a fresh overview of Instagram data, this time from the perspective of the users who live in the city," says Damiano Cerrone, co-founder and principal at SPIN Unit consulting group, project researcher at Tampere University of Technology and principal researcher at TERREFORM New York. "By isolating only the pictures taken by locals, ITMO researchers can produce maps that are less about global trends and mass-media and more about the everyday life in the city—a ‘locals' guide’ for the city of St. Petersburg that is as genuine as it gets. Further on, they can also study how different uses and urban spaces are perceived by locals and tourists, providing two different perspectives that, if studied apart, can give planners new ideas on what is popular in the city."

Have you ever received bad (intentionally or not) traveling advice?

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#1

Re: Advice from the Locals

09/16/2017 5:12 AM

You are a weird person, who would ever mislead somebody in a strange town they were unfamiliar with, that could be extremely dangerous....No I've never given bad advice and no I've never gotten bad advice....

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Re: Advice from the Locals

09/17/2017 12:40 PM

You are describing what is well known in the U.S. When traveling by car, you stop at places that have high truck traffic and where locals like police stop to feed. If I pass a restaurant with a long line out the door, I know it must be good; but there are people who lack any sort of taste in food who would not like the food when so many do. I knew a man who while traveling would pass on every restaurant and only eat hamburger. Even while traveling through Europe and the Orient, all he would eat would be hamburger. That is of course an exception, but never-the-less 100% true. I have a son-in-law who is in his 50's. I have never seen him eat anything other than hamburger and fried catfish. He generally refuses to come to my house for dinner because he doesn't care for my cooking (By the way, I am an excellent cook so say all my family and friends. I have traveled world wide, usually in work related groups. While others in my group would seek out tourist spots, I would always strike out on my own and find where the locals eat and drink. There's no better way to learn about a country than by emerging yourself in their culture whenever possible.

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Re: Advice from the Locals

09/21/2017 1:25 PM

To confuse any invading armies, in 1940 the street signs in London were changed.

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