Category: image search

Public domain images

A few times I wondered why there was no “Public Domain” selection in Flickr because there are some images (mine obviously) that I wanted to release into the public domain. I didn’t think much about it at the time but Paul and I have been talking about public domain images a lot lately – because I think it would be bloody awesome to have a public domain image repository that is totally searchable (using image recognition of course!). That would be killer! But I deviate… most of my images on Flickr are a combination of creative commons and all rights reserved.

I usually drop on Flickr as “creative commons” images that I have created that do not contain people. I am going through my collections now and setting a lot of my images as creative commons (I enjoy people using them if they wish to). So I was surprised when the White House released an official collection of photos depicting Obama’s 100 days in office on Flickr. This is fantastic of course but … shouldn’t the images be public domain images?

And then it hit me. Stewart (one of the co-founders of Flickr) was right 4 years ago: we have very little ways of making sure that the image that someone uploads (not just the White House) is an image that they actually have created and can tag as public domain. You can’t recall a public domain image.

This is a problem that can easily be solved with a lot of servers and image recognition: imagine if you will if every single image uploaded to a public domain registry was compared to the entire body of images existing on the web? Imagine that “someone” had indexed all the images available online using image recognition and imagine that you can make these comparisons in real time and get an instant search result.

A girl can dream can’t she?

Google + colour searching

Well it is about time that the Google folks mimicked the Canadian search giants – yes, that us! Google introduced colour search to image searching. Nice. Of course it will be awesome! Still no multicolour on Google but you can try a simple hack to get the poor man’s multicolour on Google: search for a colour using a keyword (for example blue sky) and pick a different colour from the drop down. Voila! No great image search results but hey it is a start…

Now if you want the play with the real deal in multicolour searching head over to the Idée lab!

Love how a blog post on LifeHacker about Google’s colour search moves into a full discussion of Idée’s technologies namely: TinEye and Multicolor search. Fun times in the Ideeplex!

It is personal

That would be the user generated content conference in February 2009 in California. I will be speaking at the conference and I am looking forward to it. I am surrounded by user generated content: open source software in the software space, wikipedia, flickr and creative commons, ThinkBig,  just to name a few. I am looking forward to meeting some of the other speakers and putting together a kick ass presentation.

I am obsessed these days with search, particularly searching user generated content. You can’t use what you can’t find. I know that everyone else is more concerned about trust and accuracy: like in can you trust what you are reading and is it accurate. Search will find the accuracies and inaccuracies all the same! Searching photographs is particularly painful since we typically rely on keywords to be associated with images to find them. It is a starting point but it is limiting. Large scale image searching on the web is still in its infancy. We have seen a lot of development in the search space this year, with the introductions of visual search features, colour searching, keywords + geotags but we still have a ways to go. What I have been thinking a lot about is the creation of a world visual repository: imagine (soon) being able to take a photograph of anything and getting back (useful) information about what you photographed, via mobile devices preferrably.

How far are we from this dream? I say: not very far. Not very far. Start work on stealth project now!

Life Photo Archive on Google Image Search

Google’s efforts to bring offline images online and make them universally accessible strike again, this time by bringing online the 10 million Life archive photo collection. Only 20% of the archive is currently online and available for viewing here, but Google is planning on adding the entire LIFE archive over the coming months. I have to say that it is awesome to see some of the LIFE photographs I have not seen in a long time. I am a big boxing fan (surprise!) and I just spent 36 hours in Louisville last weekend so the LIFE Muhammad Ali photographs were a great find.