Identifying patterns of repetition in one image set (similar images, memes, instances of the same image)
This approach may be used to explore a rather large collection of images. By organising all images in a regular grid based on formal similarity, one is able to spot similar images, variations of the same images, or to quantify at a glance the amount of similar elements in the image set. It may be used to map shared memes around a particular issue, or to spot users with similar profile pics (such as the default avatar).
This and other visual methods recipes were originally formulated by Gabriele Colombo drawing on his doctoral work exploring the design of composite images. They were documented and refined for a module on Digital Methods for Internet Studies: Concepts, Devices and Data convened by Liliana Bounegru and Jonathan Gray at the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London, leading to a set of collaborative group projects with their students and the European Forest Institute. The approaches behind these recipes draw on several years of experimentation with images in the context of research and teaching at the Visual Methodologies Collective (Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences), the Digital Methods Initiative (University of Amsterdam), DensityDesign Lab (Politecnico di Milano), the médialab (Sciences Po, Paris) and beyond. You can read more about these approaches in Colombo, 2019 and Niederer & Colombo, 2019. Further readings can be found in the visual methods Zotero bibliography.