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UK Paintings Catalog: When Every Does Not Mean Every

December 2, 2014

I love headlines like “Every Painting in the UK at Your Fingertips.” The idea is that “images and details of every painting (in tempera or acrylic) in public ownership through the United Kingdom.” Well, obviously the “every” is not every painting. There is an 86 volume set which presumably presents the images and metadata. The digital images are available at Your Paintings. There is a search box and a number of other options. I ran a query for Patrick Heron, an artist whose work I find interesting. There are some of his pictures in the Tate, and he was born . Here’s what I found:


Pretty thin. The Patrick Heron entry for the St Ives School offers a bit more information.


I am not sure if the BBC index is incomplete. It appears that posting information or links to other UK online sources is not part of the project. Also, the presentation of different search boxes on the BBC site does not make accessing the Your Paintings information easier.

The enthusiasm of the newspaper is admirable. I expect/hope that the service will improve its usability and completeness in the months ahead. The BBC is, as one of my British acquaintences with an Oxford education used to say, performant.”

Stephen E Arnold, December 2, 20141

Sir Thomas Bayes Does Art. Versatile Guy.

September 17, 2014

Navigate to FindMeLike. Click on “Try this demo.” You will have access to a Bayesian-centric visual search tool. The idea is that you click on an image you like. The system then locates similar images.


The click narrows the result set. Each poster is available for sale. But I could not figure out how to move to the shopping cart.

How well does a Bayesian-centric system work? Try and use the comments section of this blog to share you opinion.

Stephen E Arnold, September 17, 2014

Machine Vision Solved (Almost)

September 11, 2014

I read “The Revolutionary Technique That Quietly Changed Machine Vision Forever.” The main idea is that having software figure out what an image “is” has become a slam dunk. Well, most of the time.

The write up from the tech cheerleaders at Technology Review says, “Machines are now almost as good as human at object recognition.”

A couple of niggling points. There is that phrase “almost as good”. Then there is the phrase “object recognition.”

Read the write up and then answer these questions:

  • Is the method ready to analyze imagery fed by a drone to a warfighter during a live fire engagement?
  • Is the system able to classify a weapon in a manner meaningful to field commander?
  • Can the system discern a cancerous tissue from a non cancerous tissue with an image output from a medical imaging system?
  • Does the method recognize objects in a image like the one shown below?


Image by Stephen E Arnold, 2013

If you pass this query to Google’s image recognition system, you get street scenes, not a person watching activities through an area cordoned off by government workers.


Google thinks the surveillance image is just like the scenes shown above. Note Google does not include observers or the all important police tape.

The write up states:

In other words, it is not going to be long before machines significantly outperform humans in image recognition tasks. The best machine vision algorithms still struggle with objects that are small or thin such as a small ant on a stem of a flower or a person holding a quill in their hand. They also have trouble with images that have been distorted with filters, an increasingly common phenomenon with modern digital cameras.

This stuff works in science fiction stories, however. Lab progress is not real world application progress.

Stephen E Arnold, September 11, 2014

Instagram Search from

September 3, 2014

If you are interested in searching Instagram images, navigate to

The site says: is a new Instagram search engine and web viewer. Featuring millions of pictures, users, likes and comments, is your go-to source when you want to browse Instagram on computer or desktop. works on both PC and Mac.

A user can query by hashtags or user name. Instagram users assign hashtags and their handles. As a result, a query for “visualization” returns images and terms; for example, on September 2, 2014:


A more popular hashtag like “chicagobears” returns images more in line with non specialist content; for example:


Interesting but filtering and limits on access to user content may trouble some.

Stephen E Arnold, September 3, 2014

Tribler: A File Finder That Legal Eagles Will Want to Check

September 3, 2014

Short honk: We learned about Tribler, a rich media file finder. There is an interesting body of content; for example rich media. The site says:

Tribler can find files for you. No need for websites. Tribler can do 100 Mbps, sadly we cannot fix slow Internet or poor swarms. Lots of “pro” features: magnet links, streaming, sub-second search, channels and our upcoming anonymous mode.

Note the word “anonymous.” Tribler can play videos. The site says, “You can watch even before the download is finished.”


For more information, navigate to

Stephen E Arnold, September 3, 2014

Yahoo Flickr Images: Does Search Work?

August 31, 2014

I think you know the answer if you are a regular reader of Beyond Search.


Finding images is a tedious and time consuming business. I know what the marketing collateral and public relations noise suggests. One can search by photographer, color, yada, yada.

The reality is that finding an image requires looking at images. Some find this fun, particularly if the client is paying by the hour for graphic expertise. For me, image search underscores how primitive information retrieval tools are.

Feel free to disagree.

To test Yahoo Flickr search, navigate to “Welcome to the Internet Archive to the the Commons.” Check out the sample entry to the millions of public domain images.


Darned meaty.

To search the “Commons”, one has to navigate to the Commons page and scroll down to the search box highlighted in yellow in this screenshot:


Enter a query like this one “18th century elocution.”

Here’s what the system displayed:


I then tried this query “london omnibus 1870”.

Here’s what the system displayed:


No omnibuses.

Like many image retrieval systems, the user has to fiddle with queries until images are spotted by manual inspection.

The archive is useful. Finding images in Yahoo Flickr remains a problem for me. I thought Xooglers knew quite a bit about search. You know: Finding information when the user enters a key word or two.

Stephen E Arnold, August 31, 2014

Video Ads: Print Publisher Reveals the Unviewable Truth

May 5, 2014

I read “The Great Unwatched.” Clever title. (Keep in mind the link may go dead and you will have to hunt for a hard copy. Good luck with that, gentle reader.)  The main point is that video ads do not draw eyeballs. Er, this is a revelation I suppose. What I find interesting is that in my poking into video on the Web something became obvious years ago; to wit, put up a lot of videos and the videos don’t get much action. Sure, there may be a breakaway video that draws lots of eyeballs, but those viral wonders are tough to predict.

Now, what about ads? People want to turn them off or ignore them. There is a reason that regular TV commercials blast sound. Couch potatoes and walking media consumers want what they want, not what advertisers want them to want.

The New York Times reports, as real journalists do, the following:

By many estimates, more than half of online video ads are not seen, either because they are buried low on web pages or run in tiny, easily ignored video players on those pages, or run simultaneously with other ads. Vindico, an ad management platform company, deemed 57 percent of two billion video ads surveyed over two months to be “unviewable.”

There you have it. Most people don’t watch video ads.

I thought that Google’s gyrations were a pretty strong hint that video ads were an issue. The companies pumping money into ad videos may not be overwhelmed with customer demands for their products. The Web site data we examined showed that video was fun to talk about, often fun to produce, and probably fascinating for a handful of people. But getting the videos watched was a problem. If videos are not watched, what’s this mean for video ads? My understanding is that video ads are a sales disappointment.

There are some interesting implications. First, Google and others looking for video to deliver the next influx of easy money may have to rethink their assumptions. Second, fun stuff like making videos may have the value of a ride on a roller coaster. Once the ride is over, more fun requires another ride. There is limited satisfaction from the carnival attraction. Third, marketers may find themselves looking for a way to generate leads and makes sales that actually work. In short, video dreams disappear like the image on a display screen when the power cuts off.

Making an ad video is way more entertaining than watching a video ad. Just don’t tell anyone who does not “get” the joy of non linear editing.

Stephen E Arnold, May 5, 2014

Sail Labs Sets Up a One Stop Download Shop

January 20, 2014

Rather than having to read and click through an entire Web site, Sail Labs Technology took a page out of simplicity’s book and placed all of their information in the Download Center. Sail Labs does not dump all of their information in one part of the Web site and wish visitors good luck. They follow the usual Web 2.0 format and follow a standard organization regiment. The Download Center acts as more of an index with the entire Web site’s information downloadable in PDFs.

Sail Labs is world-leading developer in speech technology and multimedia analysis.

“We address the markets of rich media indexing and communication mining, offering cutting-edge technologies in areas such as automatic speech recognition, speaker identification, entity-and topic detection across multiple languages, geographies, and sources. Visualization components (clustering, relationships, trends, GIS) and ontologies complete our product portfolio.”

The company is based in Vienna, Austria. Sail Labs has grown from a small company and continues to garner potential investors and create high-quality software. Sail Labs still remains loyal to its roots by being 100% Austrian owned. Its headlining products are the Media Mining Indexer that allows users to process speech from multiple sources and make real-time annotated text output and the OSINIT line creates actionable intelligence based on multiple sources.

Sail Labs may not have all of the glamour and glitz of Nuance, but they do have a compelling resume based on all of the information in the Download Center.

Whitney Grace, January 20, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

Old Media Scripps Buys Newsy for Digital Video Platform

December 17, 2013

An article on TechCrunch titled Scripps Buys Newsy For $35M to Expand from TV and Newspapers to Digital Video explains the acquisition of Newsy, the media startup that is a digital video news platform, by Scripps, the TV and newspaper magnate. A Youtube video heralds the subsidization of Newsy, which should be made final in the beginning of 2014.

The article explains:

“This is about Scripps… buying an asset that gives it a digital video component to complement its existing TV and online services — effectively a bridge between the three areas where it already does business if you also count newspapers. It also gives the company access into an audience that consumes their news (and video) on devices like tablets, and has largely turned away from some of those more traditional platforms where Scripps still bases a majority of its business.”

Old media is on the move (quite old, Scripps was founded in 1879.) The company spent 35M on the acquisition, which it believes will bring them into the next generation of digital audiences. Newsy’s ad-supported videos are presently sent through web, mobile, tablet and certain TV platforms. The article suggests that the partnership Newsy had with AOL, Microsoft and Mashable may continue, but the companies haven’t announced their plans yet.

Chelsea Kerwin, December 17, 2013

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext

YouTube: Search for Comments

November 18, 2013

I am not a video goose. I cannot recall the last time I commented on a video. However, I have asked some of my researchers to search for YouTube comments. Well, my recollection is that YouTube “comments” search is not particularly helpful.

I read “Forced Google Plus Integration on YouTube Backfires, Petition Hits 112,000.” I learned that Google is requiring a Google Plus account in order to make comments about a YouTube video. Some YouTube fans are not happy. The big question is, “Will Google listen?”

What is important is that the article reports a modest movement to post YouTube comments on Reddit’s search function leaves something to be desired. However, my researchers have informed me that Reddit search does work reasonably well.

My view is that Google is trying to cement its revenue opportunities. Google Plus is part of the grand strategy. Search is not number one on the agenda in my opinion. The emergence of an option like Reddit may be an important step. Google fans may have to fend for themselves as Google works overtime to make sure it can hit its revenue numbers.

Those criticizing Google may find that their actions misfire.

Stephen E Arnold, November 18, 2013

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