Tuesday, November 07, 2006

photo + technology = meanings

Grant McCracken, about whom I already wrote in this blog (see post about noticing), came up with another great post. This time, about how technology will help us in keeping the meanings in the photos we take.
We all have come across this situation. We're flipping through some old family albums and suddenly we see an old photo that we are unable to remember where and when it was taken. Sometimes even the occasion escapes our memory. It's there in your family album, and somehow it lost its meaning.
Take a look at these "mystery photos" in the ancestor's archive web site, for example. They are all old, unidentified family photos, posted in the web site in the hopes that somebody, somewhere, comes to the rescue and give them some meaning. Who are these people? Where was it taken? Who's that boy with great-granddaddy?
As people move to digital photography, the number of photos being taken has increased tremendously and so has the problem of keeping them all correctly identified.
Services like Flickr and Google maps are already helping us make more sense of the photos we take by allowing tagging and geotagging. But so far, we have to do it "manually" (for example, find on Flickr map the exact location a particular photo was taken).
Now, some developing technologies will make that even easier to do.
We now have cameras that record sound (Nikon D100), thus allowing us to say a few notes about the photos; GPS-enabled cameras (Ricoh Pro G3), for precise geotagging. And of course, wireless technology to allow easy transfer and storage of photos.
But this is not only about hardware. This website, myheritage.com, offers "face recognition technology" to family photos. You create an account and upload some photos with the proper identification. After these initial photos, the software automatically detects faces in the following uploaded photos, saving the effort needed to mark faces manually. They claim it can be taught to associate faces with names and family trees. Does that sound like the promise of no more "mystery photos"?
The goal is to record what Grant calls the 5 Ws: where, when, what, who, and why. Ultimately, they'll help preserve our memory and meanings in our lives.


Austen, Ian. Pictures, With Map and Pushpin Included. New York Times. November 2, 2006. (here)


Anonymous said...

Speaking about "geotagging": do you know locr?

locr offers the ideal solution and makes geotagging exceptionally easy. locr uses GoogleMaps with detailed maps and high-resolution satellite images. To geotag your photos just enter address, let locr search, fine-tune the marker, accept position, and done! If you don't know the exact address simply use drag&drop to set the position.

For automatic geotagging you need a datalog GPS receiver in additon to your digital camera. The GPS receiver data and the digital camera data is then automatically linked together by the locr software. All information will be written into the EXIF header.

Use the "Show in Google Earth" button to view your photos in Google Earth.

With locr you can upload photos with GPS information in them without any further settings. In the standard view, locr shows the photo itself, plus the place it was taken. If you want to know more about the place where the photo was taken, just have at look at the Wikipedia articles which are also automatically assigned to the picture.

Have a look at www.locr.com.

Nelson said...

thanks for the tip. will check it out.