Chris McEvoy follows up on my PhotoStory post: “Here are a couple of more papers about managing photos:

Active Photos (HP Labs – Mar 04) In this paper we describe an investigation into linkages to multimedia content from individual items in photographs and other printed images. We describe prototypes for authoring and playing such “active photos”, and give the results of informal trials. We conclude with lessons learned and next steps.

PhotoTOC: Automatic Clustering for Browsing Personal Photographs (MS Research – Dec 03) This paper presents Photo Table Of Contents (PhotoTOC), a system that helps users find digital photographs in their own collection of photographs. PhotoTOC is a browsing user interface that uses an overview+detail design. The detail view is a temporally ordered list of all of the user’s photographs. The overview of the user’s collection is automatically generated by an image clustering algorithm, which clusters on the creation time and the color of the photographs. PhotoTOC was tested on users’ own photographs against three other browsers. Searching for images with PhotoTOC was subjectively rated easier than all of the other browsers. This result shows that automatic organization of personal photographs facilitates efficient and satisfying search.”

For some reason, this comment triggered my blacklist. I have no idea why, anyone?

This domain finally broke through the 100.000 visitors barrier a month (332664 pages, 850776 files, 10 Gigs) in March :)

(In short: it looks like Microsoft removed Quicktime support from a social photo sharing tool and thereby crucially handicapped the tool because the exported files are now too large to share. Too bad.)

Microsoft’s PhotoStory is a great tool to take a bunch of pictures, put tem in a sequence, narrate your personal stories and export. It is based on some solid research: PhotoStory: Preserving Emotion in Digital Photo Sharing. Internal paper. (Vronay, D., Farnham, S., Davis, J. (2001)), and is one of the few pieces of software that really tries to address some of the sharing challenges with digital pictures.

But, and this is a major but: the files it creates are too large, which makes it really hard to share stories (hard to email a 5 Meg or 20 Meg file). From my experience with optimizing video and pictures, it really should be able to optimize the end result a lot more. It’s crucial: I payed for Photostory in order to share stories with my family in Belgium, but the files are too large to email. It defeats the purpose.

Now, and this is where it gets interesting, the paper (see above) mentions exporting as Quicktime: “The advantages PhotoStory offers come at a download size that is not much larger than the photos themselves. Unlike a video, which needs every frame rendered in the file, QuickTime can produce the movie using a single frame for each image, plus a small number of additional bytes for specifying the visual effects and motion.”

Photostory does not allow you to export Quicktime. It only exports Microsoft Media Player files. And, as far as I can tell, the files it exports are way too large for what’s in there.

So, assuming Quicktime could indeed produce files a lot smaller than WMP, Photostory, a tool for sharing emotional stories through pictures, has been seriously handicapped in its purpose by Microsoft when they removed Quicktime support. I’m annoyed because I want to use this!

Nested facets

A structural element of classification systems that I have never seen discussed explicitly has been hovering in my mind for years, and suddenly became kinda clear to me, so I’m writing this down ;) Sometimes really simple things can take a long time to sink in with me.

Many times, you’ll have an overall taxonomy (say, “products”) (whatever structure it has, faceted or not), and then, once you reach a certain point within that taxonomy (say, “digital cameras”), you suddenly are offered additional taxonomies to refine your choice (say, “lens type”). These additional taxonomies aren’t just nodes within the higher taxonomy, they are additional facets, NOT part of the taxonomy you were browsing so far.

Try browsing as an example, or have a look at this diagram:

nested facets

These kind of nested facets are clearly being used and useful in real life, but I haven’t seen their structural or other properties being discussed explicitly anywhere. They are not part of XFML, for example, nor are they part of Travis’ Facetmap, afaik.

Maybe they are too obvious to be discussed, but some awareness of the existence and usefulness of nested facets (I’ll just call them that, seems to work) would mean there would be more chance of them being built into the standards and tools that define the restrictions within which we often work. So who has worked with nested facets? Any tools that explicitly support them? Any comments on their properties?

What can I do with an anthropology degree?: “Get as much experience as you can as an undergraduate.”
Anthropology majors can capitalize on the growing global marketplace: “Archaeological digs, exciting though they may be, don’t exactly qualify as a family-friendly job. Museum work, by all accounts, is tough to come by. And you’re not particularly inclined to become a “lifer” on campus, chasing a Ph.D and an academic post.
“The bachelor’s degree, however, does provide suitable background for many different kinds of entry-level jobs, such as research assistant, administrative aide, or management and sales trainee.”
What can an anthropology degree do for you?: “Cultural anthropologists are equipped to work in a variety of fields. In the business world, they can be found in public relations and advertising positions. In the academic world, cultural anthropologists can work as museum educators. Cultural anthropologists with an emphasis on medical anthropology also find jobs in community health. ”
Finding a job in anthropology.

I am very impressed with the HP SpeechBot search engine. It searches audio and video content, but get this: it turns audio into text (transcripts based on speech recognition) and searches those transcripts.

“hp has indexed over 10,000 hours of content that you can search.” Shows are updated daily. The design of the result is also quite brilliant:


Here’s a thought I had yesterday on the train. Since video is hard to search (though there are many projects: Webseek at Colombia University, Altavista video search, SingingFish, Virage, Compaq’s Speechbot, …), classification may become more important with video than with the text-web.

Google’s image search (and most video search technologies) search on the text surrounding the video/image.

So here’s another idea: if I can link within a videostream (discussed here earlier), I can then annotate and make that content available to Google. So maybe my classification idea sucks – searchability may come from discussing video, not from classifying video. Discussing is, after all, more natural than classifying.

Organic Style Love Your Lawn (via WorldChanging): “The secret to having a great lawn without chemicals is Dutch clover. For the past 50 years, clover has been considered a noxious lawn weed, but before that it was an important component in fine lawns—and for good reason. Clover is drought-tolerant, virtually immune to diseases, and distasteful to common turf insects. And it generates its own food by fixing nitrogen in the soil.

So how did this lawn superstar get such a bad rap? Blame the broadleaf herbicides introduced after World War II. Used to kill weeds such as dandelions and plantains, the chemicals also destroyed the clover that was used in many lawn mixes of the time (leaving ugly bare patches in their wake). Today, virtually all seed companies omit clover from their mixes.”

BlogAudio – Jon Udell: “Jon Udell has been “quoting” audio and video snippets on the web for some time.
It is presently a very difficult process, but Jon’s approach does not need a server to capture any media. He just hyperlinks to a media file and gives it start and end points.” Good overview by Bob Doyle.