readings

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Community based photo organization.

[Week 3] If lastFm has been able to understand the musical tastes of thousands of its users, and that delicious suggest you relevant websites based on your own bookmarks, there shouldn’t be any reason why it wouldn’t be possible to do the same sorting with pictures? The Ffffound website use their visitors tastes and attempt to reinvent photo browsing online. Ffffound is not the first one to tackle the image sorting problem of the internet.
Google image search tries to comes up with the most relevant images based on text content surrounding the image, but it always creates a huge amount of false-positive results. The image quality suggested by google is often very poor due to the fact that images are not evaluated individually by goole, only the main website’s notoriety (google calls it page rank) is taken into account.
Flickr’s adressed this organsational challenge differently in a very. interestingness concept is an elaborated algorithm to sort rate images rate rating with something adapted to each users taste. It’s based on your appreciation of images, not an average global appreciation; this makes a big difference in the way we sort data.
While many things get wider appreciation than others, the mainstream culture is rarely represent some of the favourite things of every individuals; they’re rather a mix of mildly appreciated things amongst all individuals. This is I think the reason why everyone complain about the mainstream culture, even if there are also partially responsible for it.
While it’s hard to avoid such patterns in static media like TV, Cinema or Newspaper, there’s no reason to stick solely to this global model in the digital world. The goole search results are still the same for all users, and many innovative companies still tries deliberately to organize the content in a top-down fashion. Digg lets user vote for (or against) content, and the more appreciated content gain in visibility. The ratio of positive votes agains negatives ones is more important in the beginning than the total quantity of positive votes. That’s already a big improvement compared to simpler rating system. The facts that top news are selected by user is also really interesting because an editorial bias has theoretically less chance to been observed on democratic news platform. The Digg Images website is especially interesting to be compared agains Ffffound because it put in perspective the real added value of Ffffound: the personalized content.
The content become more interesting to all users when it’s personalized. Another factor that shouldn’t be neglected when comparing the two approaches is the “troll effect” that happen when there’s one golden top-down structure. Since everyone would ike their content to be on top of the list, massive efforts are put into places to rise above others. The whole SEO (search engine optimization) industry is fuelling on these top-ranking promises. All these effort to highjack the normally functional system make it harder to discern the good from the bad. To counter the sneaky tactics of web marketing strategists, platform owner (google, digg, twitter, flickr, yahoo etc) elaborates new control and filtering technique, and it’s perpetuating the cycle.
Flickr’s own interestingness formula is mostly based on the photo popularity amongst all the community and therefor directly linked to global appreciation.
Flickr’s interestingness is in the spotlight on the flickr explore section. 500 users submitted photos are selected everyday to be part of this gallery. Since interestingness is one of the only criteria to help sort the interesting pictures from the millions of boring pet snapshots, many applications have been build on this concept using the flickr API. The FlickRiver site suggests to see a group or an album content ordered by interestingness and allow a smoother scroll through larger quantities of images by preloading extra images dynamically. For instance compare the view of the awesome bubble project photos using the flickr group(ordered by date posted), or using FlickRiver view (more interesting photos first, always according to flickr).
Here are two other example of the Flickr Api possibility by Mario Kligerman.



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