The long tail of images

Swiss train interior

I just received this mail from Flickr:

Recent activity on your photos
Swiss train interior
peteer01 says:
Hi, I’m an admin for a group called Photos taken in trains, and we’d love to have your photo added to the group.

I love the long tail. And to make people happy I just had to upload this one as well.

London train

Thanks to Mr. Superlasten for letting me try his 8 mm russian super wide angle lens.

Update:
Mr. Happygolucky ups the ante with decorated domestic animals. Loooooong tail. Very long.

The long tail of images

Testing flickr

Testing flickr

It is quite easy to let flickr help you post directly to your blog from your mobile phone. This article is a simple test to see if i have managed to do the styling right. In theory this image should pop up in a lightbox when you click it. Edit: I decided not to use that fancy Lightbox effect by default. It might cause problems in some browsers.

I have added another image with the Lightbox effect here. Click it to test the effect. Should I add this effect to all images in this blog by default?

Writing

In Safari on my Mac the Close button on the lightbox image doesn’t work. I have to close it by clicking somewhere outside of the window.

Testing flickr

Future of Web Apps 07 – Part 2

Img 0908

Part 1 of my roundup is here. Some would say that this is a bit late because the conference was in february this year, but the stuff that Bradley Horowitz from Yahoo had to say is interesting and will only get even more interesting as time passes by.

Background:
Flickr is one of the world’s most popular sites where people can share, publish, discuss and organize their pictures online. One of the most important features of Flickr is the fact that people add a lot of descriptions to their images. These descriptions are what we call metadata. All the extra information that we add in addition to the image itself. Title, tags, exposure information from the camera and location data. These metadata are extremely important for a system like Flickr because it makes it possible to find and organize images in a lot of different ways.

The most obvious one is to search for a certain word. Do a search for “Norway” and you will find all the images that people have marked with “Norway” and so on. In addition to all the metadata that people add to their images, Flickr also keeps track of how many people that view an image, how many people that comment on it and so on. In total this adds up to a very detailed database of images that can be searched and organized in a lot of different ways.

Bradley Horowitz on the Future of Web Apps
Among other things, he did a roundup of what they call “interestingness” at Flickr. A way to sort out the best images. According to Horowitz it’s “based on implicit, organic measures.” As far as we know it’s a combination of the amount of views, the amount of comments and the amount of times an image has been marked favorite by the users. Have a look. Here is what’s showing up with a search for “Norway” through the old method of sorting. Newest images on top. And here is the same search sorted by interestingness. As he said, “interestingness works”.

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Then he started talking about new ways of using the data that they have in their database. An example: combine the tag “route66″ with the geo location data. Suddenly you can ask Flickr the question “where is Route 66″ and it will answer quite accurately (have a look at the slide in the picture above). I don’t think this is the best way to find Route 66 but it is an interesting approach to the use of data from Flickr.

Img 0917

Then, you can start combining maps with tags. Tell Flickr to show a map of London with the tags people use placed on the map. You immediately get an idea of the most popular places in London and can start browsing images of those places.

Now, combine that with the time stamps and ask Flickr: “Show me places that are popular at night in London.”

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As you probably have understood, having a huge database of images with extreme amounts of metadata added gives some interesting possibilities.

So now you can head over to TagMaps and have fun.

Mr. Horowitz also did a nice demonstration of Yahoo Pipes. An utterly powerful tool that I’ll have to get back to later. If you are confident with RSS feeds and have some understanding of programming I would recommend that you visit Pipes and test it for yourself.

..and you can still find more details from the FOWA07 conference over at Ryan Carson’s blog.

Future of Web Apps 07 – Part 2

TVedia – An amazing networked media frontend!

TVedia is a media center frontend with some extremely interesting networking functionallity and a very nice interface for YouTube, Google Video, Flickr, LastFM and other media related web sites.

I recently gave it a run on my Windows Media Center Edition box. The installation was very easy. The MCE remote worked at once with no configuration.

Excellent media library

You let the software scan your drives for media files and it builds a database that lets you browse your images, videos and music. So far so good. A full screen media browser like all the others out there. And, after my quick test I must say that it is a very good one. The animated user interface is fast and user firendly, but not as smooth and slick as Windows Media Center Edition (MCE). The advantage is the fact that TVedia has modest hardware requirements compared to MCE.

Universal plug and play

But what’s so special about TVedia compared to all the other available options? The network integration. During installation it asked if I wanted access to the media that TVedia found on the other computers on my network. I said Yes, and when installing TVedia on another box on the same network all my media showed up there as well. No questions asked, no configuration. It just worked.

TVedia is a universal plug and play (UPnP) client and server. Meaning that it will communicate with your UPnP enabeled phone or media server. I haven’t tried this yet, so I’ll have to come back to how this works. You can read more here.

Web video in your living room

But the functionallity that impressed me the most is TVedia’s nice integration with sites like YouTube, GoogleVideo and Flickr.

With TVedia these sites are suddenly available from your remote on the big screen in the living room. The experience works very well. You can search for video clips and browse categories. Compared to the YouTube and GoogleVideo plugin for Windows Media Center Edition this experience is way better. Of course, the quality of the videos on these sites doesn’t look very good on your 42 inch LCD, but the playback is done through ffdshow and gives you an experience as good as possible. When trying to predict the future of technology a couple of things are pretty certain. The quality will be better! This is a preview of some of the functionallity that the future of big screen entertainment will give you.

Such a nice interface for these sites can turn out to be very interesting and really emphasize the possibilities of Long Tail Content in your living room. (If you want to know more about the long tail Chris Anderson explains it in The Media Center Show here. Or, of course Wikipedia comes you your rescue with a great article.)

Flickr

For Flickr you can even upload pictures to your account directly from TVedia. You can browse your own sets, your friend’s pictures, search and browse tags.

When running a slide show of photos from Flickr TVedia downloads the largest version available and present them with nice transitions on your TV.

If you add the fact that TVedia plays protected music from both iTunes and MSN Music and has an open interface for plug in development you are close to the perfect media center. And you can’t complain about the price of $35,- either.

So what’s the catch?

Unfortunately, there’s a big one. No TV functionallity yet. You need to run it in cooperation with SnapStream Beyond TV or another proper PVR software. I have years of experience with such solutions. Running one PVR software and another media library software. That is not at all something that I would recommend. The fact that Windows Media Center Edition provides me with both a media library and a proper PVR with an EPG was my main reason to switch to this platform.

The usability, navigation and stability always suffer when running several programs. TVedia version 3.5 had PVR capabilities, so I really hope that 8Dimensions will add a proper PVR with EPG to TVedia version 4 as soon as possible.

But, if you’re in for a tiny bit of tweaking and maintenance, the combination of TVedia and the already mentioned SnapStream Beyond TV will give you a media box with far more functionallity than a plain MCE 2005 box from Microsoft.

So far this is one of the most interesting products I have seen in this space for a long time! The music library, networking and online features are way better than what I am used to in MCE. Please guys, add a proper PVR and you have a winner on your hands.

TVedia – An amazing networked media frontend!

The death of beta

After writing about my first experience with the new Yahoo GO TV people keep reminding me about the fact that this is beta software. At some point back in time a “beta version” of a software package was a complete version, but with possibilities for bugs and maybe some minor functions missing.

Flickr Beta Gmail Beta

This whole Web 2.0 thing has destroyed the “beta” state completely. “Beta” means nothing as long as the world’s most successful photo sharing site – Flickr is still in “beta” after years of existence and the world’s best web based mail – Gmail is also in “beta”.

So what should the team behind Yahoo Go TV do when they want to show people something before it is completed? Call it “a public preview” or something. If you absolutely want to call it a “beta” because that is so cool and Web 2.0 like then please emphasise what’s the reason for the “beta” state.

For Yahoo Go TV the situation is a bit special since they bought a complete product with a large user base and lots of functions and then release this complete product as a “beta”. This is my suggestion:

1. Analyze what’s the most important functions for the passionate and long time users:
– The configuration tool and flexibility
– The plugins

2. Understand that it is these long time users that will write about your product at once and like it or not, they will compare it with the existing one that they love.

3. Keep those existing functions when releasing the first “beta”

4. If keeping these advanced functions is impossible make it completely clear that they will appear again in a future release. Do that by implementing some extra screens in the installation wizard.

A screen that says “Open the advanced configuration tool” with a greyed out “OK” button and a message that says “This is a preview version, the configuration utility will be back in the next release“. Do the same thing with the plugins and the other functions that you find important. “Add plugins” – Message: we will keep supporting plugins but they are disabled in this preview version. And so on.

Doing so would avoid the negative parts of discussions like this and this. Now, the fact that you follow the forums and the blogs and actually post comments and take part in the discussion is great. Keep up the good work!

Looking forward to the next “beta” or “public preview” or “release candidate” or … of Yahoo Go for TV!

Update:

Writely Logo
I forgot to mention another solution. The extremely cool BetaMeter that writely use:
Beta Meter

It’s now on 64%. At least I can see an end to Writely’s beta status.

The death of beta