Sunday, February 17, 2008

tagging to improve image search

Using user generated tags for image search had been around for a while. Flickr has been using tags to find images for several years. Google managed to turn tagging images into a game. Pairs of people are given a set of images and asked to think of labels for the images. Points are awarded for labels matching your partner's. The labels gathered from the game are used to improve Google Image Search.

Google Image Search isn't the only situation in which user generated tags can improve image search. In a project described here, several prototypes were developed and tested for museums to gather tags to improve access to their online art collections.

In this example, users were asked to provide tags to describe the statue pictured.

Some museums have already implemented similar systems. The Cleveland Museum of Art's online collection makes it easy to tag images by placing a button labeled "Help others find me" next to the image of the art piece (see example). Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a way to view the tags that other users have submitted.

While these concepts aren't new, I think that we're going to start seeing more and more websites using user-generated content to improve search.

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