Photo Meta-data

September 29th, 2003 2:25 AM

If only Microsoft weren’t so incredibly evil, I’d probably be all about them; Their research department has the resources to do some really good work (it’s a shame most of it is never made use of by their core product line or customers). The World-Wide Media eXchange (WWMX) is one such project:

Our goal is to explore what we can do with a gazillion photos on a single database indexed by their location:

  1. Is there general interest in such a database?
  2. Would people post their own photos to it?
  3. Would anyone care about photos taken by strangers?
  4. Is there any commercial value to a location-tagged database?
  5. What technical challenges arise in building the WWMX?
  6. What creative projects might be inspired with all those images?

Leaving aside the notion of “a gazillion photos,” I’d say the answers (for me) are:

  1. Probably, yes. But even if there’s not general interest, turning alpha-geeks onto this sort of thing would produce some great ideas. Also, coming up with a product that would enable this (I bet Apple could pull this off) would create a market for this information and technology.
  2. Perhaps. I’d be much more interested in a meta-data format (RDF?) that could be posted along with photo collections on individuals’ sites and linked together using somthing like FOAF.
  3. Yes, if you interpret “stranger” as “within N degrees of my direct friends and acquaintences.
  4. Yes, but I’m far more interested in the social and technical implications than the commercial ones.
  5. I don’t know, but they’ll be radically different depending on whether a centralized database or decentralized web model is used.
  6. Only time will tell.

Mix cell-phone cameras, GPS technology (perhaps in the cell-phone) and weblogging/moblogging together, and the decentralized model starts to look suspiciously like a SMOP. Add PDAs and laptops, and you can add annotation to the meta-data (actually, if you’re skilled at using a cell’s keypad, I suppose you can already add the annotation).

Update: Libby Miller directed me (in the comments) to the codepiction project (demo, svg demo, cataloging demo).

This is some great work, but doesn’t go quite as far as I’d like. As I wrote in a response to Libby’s comment (updated slightly after re-reading it),

My point in bringing up FOAF was to be able to provide a relevance to the photos with geo-data so that you can narrow down a query by degrees of separation (Suppose you wanted to see pictures from an event X you attended with Y. Then the query “Show me photos taken at X by people within N degrees of Y” becomes interesting).

In any case, I’ve started looking into annotating my photos with some of this metadata. (I’d provide a link, but the photos are currently offline. They’ll be back soon, I promise.)

Libby also has a great weblog, Plan B, which has joined my blogroll.


hi - did you see the FOAF codepiction work? it uses foaf:depiction, wordnet and geo vocabs to annotate photos. (writeup, a bit old) - demo - svg demo - cataloging tool demo.

cheers, libby

Posted by: libby on September 29th, 2003 3:33 PM

Very interesting, I think I recollect something like that in the past, I’ll have to look after that.

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