Looking for Katrina Images On Google & Yahoo

Over the weekend I went searching for Hurricane Katrina imagery in the Google Images and Yahoo Images databases. It’s been two weeks since the storm hit the now devastated gulf coast and I wanted to determine what a typical user might find when entering the simple but descriptive query [Hurricane Katrina] in the image search box at Google and Yahoo.

At Google Images only 36 images (I’m not kidding, are seen on the results pages (screen cap here) and the relevancy of a few of these images are questionable (they have nothing to do with the storm and the devastatlon it caused).

Btw, I ran the search several times over the weekend to make sure a technical error was causing so few images to appear.

Many of the images that Google does offer are charts and maps of the storm before it slammed into the gulf coast. If you’re looking for imagery that illustrates the destruction Katrina caused, you’ll find very few. I was surprised that with the tens of thousands of images found on the open web, I would have found more. Perhaps this exercise also gives us some idea about how often Google Images is updated?

How did Yahoo Images do with the Hurricane Katrina query?

MUCH better than Google.

The total estimated number of images for the [Hurricane Katrina] query at Yahoo Images is over 6,100 but that number means little since I was only able to view 531. That said, most — but not all — of these images have a direct relationship to the storm and its aftermath. You’ll find images from various sources culled from the open web along with imagery available from Yahoo News.

One thing I was unable to find via in either Google Images or Yahoo Images was material from the FEMA Photo Library, U.S. Dept of Defense Image Collection, and other sources inclding Orbimage and DigitalGlobe. Of course, this once again illustrates why knowledge of specialized/fcoused databases is so important.

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