March 2, 2016
The search engine FindA.Photo proves itself to be a useful resource for browsing images based on any number of markers. The site offers a general search by terms, or the option of browsing images by color, collection (for example, “wild animals,” or “reflections”) or source. The developer of the site, David Barker, described his goals for the services on Product Hunt,
“I wanted to make a search for all of the CC0 image sites that are available. I know there are already a few search sites out there, but I specifically wanted to create one that was: simple and fast (and I’m working on making it faster), powerful (you can add options to your search for things like predominant colors and image size with just text), and something that could have contributions from anyone (via GitHub pull requests).”
My first click on a swatch of royal blue delivered 651 images of oceans, skies, panoramas of oceans and skies, jellyfish ballooning underwater, seagulls soaring etc. That may be my own fault for choosing such a clichéd color, but you get the idea. I had better (more various) results through the collections search, which includes “action,” “long-exposure,” “technology,” “light rays,” and “landmarks,” the last of which I immediately clicked for a collage of photos of the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Big Ben, and the Great Wall of China.
Chelsea Kerwin, March 2, 2016
January 20, 2016
Memes are random bits of Internet culture that come and go faster than the highest DSL speed. There are so many memes out there that it seems impossible to catalog the trends, much less each one. The Independent tells us that Amanda Brennan has made a career out of studying and documenting memes, becoming the world’s first meme librarian: “Meet Tumblr’s ‘Meme Librarian,’ The Woman With The Best Job On The Internet.”
Brennan works at Tumblr and her official title is content and community manager, but she prefers the title “meme librarian.” She earned a Master’s in Information from Rutgers and during graduate school she documented memes for Know Your Meme, followed by Tumblr.
“[In graduate school] immediately I knew I did not want to work in a traditional library. Which is weird because people go to library school and they’re like ‘I want to change the world with books!’ And I was like ‘I want to change the world of information.’ And they started a social media specialization in the library school, and I was like, ‘This is it. This is the right time for me to be here.’”
Brennan is like many librarians, obsessed with taxonomy and connections between information. The Internet gave her an outlet to explore and study to her heart’s content, but she was particularly drawn to memes, their origins, and how they traveled around the Internet. After sending an email to Know Your Meme about an internship, her career as a meme librarian was sealed. She tracks meme trends and discovers how they evolve not only in social media, but how the rest of the Internet swallows them up.
I wonder if this will be a future focus of library science in the future?
December 8, 2015
Recipe websites have become the modern alternative to traditional cookbooks, but finding the perfect recipe through an Internet search engine can be tedious. LifeHacker informs us that Bing is now using image search technology to help users whittle down the results in, “Find Recipes by Image in Bing’s Image Search.” Writer Melanie Pinola describes how it works:
“When you look up ‘baked ziti’ or ‘roast turkey’ or any other food-related term and then go to Bing’s images tab, photos that you can access recipes for will have a chef’s hat icon, along with a count of how many sites use that image. Click on the image to see the recipe(s) related to the image and load them in your browser. You’ll save some time versus click through to every recipe in a long list of search results, especially if you’re thinking of making something that looks a particular way, such as bacon egg cups.”
Cynthia Murrell, December 8, 2015
October 21, 2015
The article titled When Big Data Becomes Bad Data on Tech In America discusses the legal ramifications of relying on algorithms for companies. The “disparate impact” theory has been used in the courtroom for some time to ensure that discriminatory policies be struck down whether they were created with the intention to discriminate or not. Algorithmic bias occurs all the time, and according to the spirit of the law, it discriminates although unintentionally. The article states,
“It’s troubling enough when Flickr’s auto-tagging of online photos label pictures of black men as “animal” or “ape,” or when researchers determine that Google search results for black-sounding names are more likely to be accompanied by ads about criminal activity than search results for white-sounding names. But what about when big data is used to determine a person’s credit score, ability to get hired, or even the length of a prison sentence?”
The article also reminds us that data can often be a reflection of “historical or institutional discrimination.” The only thing that matters is whether the results are biased. This is where the question of human bias becomes irrelevant. There are legal scholars and researchers arguing on behalf of ethical machine learning design that roots out algorithmic bias. Stronger regulations and better oversight of the algorithms themselves might be the only way to prevent time in court.
Chelsea Kerwin, October 21, 2015
July 24, 2015
Humans are visual creatures and they learn and absorb information better when pictures accompany it. In recent years, the graphic novel medium has gained popularity amongst all demographics. The amount of information a picture can communicate is astounding, but unless it is looked for it can be hard to find. It also cannot be searched by a search engine…or can it? Synaptica is in the process of developing the “OASIS Deep Image Indexing Using Linked Data,”
OASIS is an acronym for Open Annotation Semantic Imaging System, an application that unlocks image content by giving users the ability to examine an image closer than before and highlighting data points. OASIS is linked data application that enables parts of the image to be identified as linked data URIS, which can then be semantically indexed to controlled vocabulary lists. It builds an interactive map of an image with its features and conceptual ideas.
“With OASIS you will be able to pan-and-zoom effortlessly through high definition images and see points of interest highlight dynamically in response to your interaction. Points of interest will be presented along with contextual links to associated images, concepts, documents and external Linked Data resources. Faceted discovery tools allow users to search and browse annotations and concepts and click through to view related images or specific features within an image. OASIS enhances the ability to communicate information with impactful visual + audio + textual complements.”
OASIS is advertised as a discovery and interactive tool that gives users the chance to fully engage with an image. It can be applied to any field or industry, which might mean the difference between success and failure. People want to fully immerse themselves in their data or images these days. Being able to do so on a much richer scale is the future.
Whitney Grace, July 24, 2015
July 14, 2015
If you spend any time with Google Maps (civilian edition), you will find blurred areas, gaps, and weird distortions which cause me to ask, “Where did that building go?”
If you really spend a lot of time with Google Maps, you will be able to see my two dogs, Max and Tess, in a street view scene.
And zoomed in. Aren’t the doggies wonderful?
The article “The Curious Case of Google Street View’s Missing Streets” is not interested in seeing what the wonky Google autos capture. The write up pokes at me with this line:
Many towns and cities are littered with small gaps in the Street View imagery.
The write up explains that Google recognizes that gaps are a known issue. The article gets close to something quite interesting when it states:
In extreme cases, whole countries are affected. Privacy has been a particular issue in Germany, where many people objected to the roll-out of Street View. Google now has Street View images only for big cities in Germany, like Berlin and Frankfurt, and appears to have given up on the rest of the country completely. Zoom out over Europe in Street View mode and Germany is mostly a blank island in a sea of blue.
Want to do something fun the author of the write up did not bother to do? Locate a list of military facilities in the UK. Then try to locate those on a Google Map. Next try to locate those on a Bing.com map (oops, Uber map)?
Notice anything unusual? Now relate your thoughts to the article’s list of causes.
If not, enjoy the snap of Max and Tess.
Stephen E Arnold, July 14, 2015
June 25, 2015
The main point of an advertisement is to get your attention and persuade you to buy a good or service. So why would ads be hiding themselves in a public venue? Gizmodo reports that in Russia certain ads are hiding from law enforcement in the article: “This Ad For Banned Food In Russia Itself From The Cops.” Russian authorities have banned imported food from the United States and European Union. Don Giulio Salumeria is a Russian food store that makes its income by selling imported Italian food, but in light of the recent ban the store has had to come up with some creative advertising:
“Websites are already able to serve up ads customized for whoever happens to be viewing a page. Now an ad agency in Russia is taking that idea one step further with an outdoor billboard that’s able to automatically hide when it spots the police coming.”
Using a camera equipped with facial recognition software programmed to recognized symbols and logos on officers’ uniforms, the billboard switches ads from Don Giulio Salumeria to another ad advertising a doll store. While the ad does change when it “sees “ the police coming, they still have enough time to see it. The article argues that the billboard’s idea is more interesting than anything. It then points out how advertising will become more personally targeted in the future, such as a billboard recognizing a sports logo and advertising an event related to your favorite team or being able to recognize your car on a weekly commute, then recommending a vacation. While Web sites are already able to do this by tracking cookies on your browser, it is another thing to being tracked in the real world by targeted ads.
Whitney Grace, June 25, 2015
June 23, 2015
MIT did not discover object recognition, but researchers did teach a deep-learning system designed to recognize and classify scenes can also be used to recognize individual objects. Kurzweil describes the exciting development in the article, “MIT Deep-Learning System Autonomously Learns To Identify Objects.” The MIT researchers realized that deep-learning could be used for object identification, when they were training a machine to identify scenes. They complied a library of seven million entries categorized by scenes, when they learned that object recognition and scene-recognition had the possibility of working in tandem.
“ ‘Deep learning works very well, but it’s very hard to understand why it works — what is the internal representation that the network is building,’ says Antonio Torralba, an associate professor of computer science and engineering at MIT and a senior author on the new paper.”
When the deep-learning network was processing scenes, it was fifty percent accurate compared to a human’s eighty percent accuracy. While the network was busy identifying scenes, at the same time it was learning how to recognize objects as well. The researchers are still trying to work out the kinks in the deep-learning process and have decided to start over. They are retraining their networks on the same data sets, but taking a new approach to see how scene and object recognition tie in together or if they go in different directions.
Deep-leaning networks have major ramifications, including the improvement for many industries. However, will deep-learning be applied to basic search? Image search still does not work well when you search by an actual image.
June 10, 2015
Online shopping is supposed to drive physical stores out of business, but that might not be the case if online shopping is too difficult. The Ragtrader article, “Why They Abandon” explains that 45 percent of Australian consumers will not make an online purchase if they experience Web site difficulties. The consumers, instead, are returning to physical stores to make the purchase. The article mentions that 44 percent believe that traditional shopping is quicker if they know what to look for and 43 percent as prefer in-store service.
The research comes from a Rackspace survey to determine shopping habits in New Zealand and Australia. The survey also asked participants what other problems they experienced shopping online:
“42 percent said that there were too many pop-up advertisements, 34 percent said that online service is not the same as in-store and 28 percent said it was too time consuming to narrow down options available.”
These are understandable issues. People don’t want to be hounded to purchase other products when they have a specific item in mind and thousands of options are overwhelming to search through. Then a digital wall is often daunting if people prefer interpersonal relationships when they shop. The survey may pinpoint online shopping weaknesses, but it also helps online stores determine the best ways for improvement.
“ ‘This survey shows that not enough retailers are leveraging powerful and available site search and navigation solutions that give consumers a rewarding shopping experience.’ ”
People shop online for convenience, variety, lower prices, and deals. Search is vital for consumers to narrow down their needs, but if they can’t navigate a Web site then search proves as useless as an expired coupon.
May 15, 2015
Image search means having software which can figure out from a digital photo that a cow is a cow. In more complex photos, the software identifies what it can. I recall one demonstration which recognized me as a 20 year old criminal. Close but no cigar.
I received an email from a former clandestine professional. The link provided informed me that Baidu was better at image recognition than the Google. The alleged error rate is 4.58 percent. I love the two decimal accuracy.
Not to be outdone, WolframAlpha is in the image recognition game as well. Navigate to “Wolfram Alpha Image Identification Identifies Steven Wolfram as Podium.” The write up points out:
Speaking of which, a picture of Steven Wolfram returned the answer ‘podium’. So no recognition for the creator. Unfortunately, it couldn’t identify a map of France at all and just came back with a big question mark. Sorry, France.
You can try the system at this page.
I uploaded the image of the cover of my new CyberOSINT study. The system returned this result:
My book cover is a a piece of electronic equipment that mixes two or more input signals to give a single output signal.
I did not know that. I thought it was a book cover with a blue hand.
Stephen E Arnold, May 15, 2015