Yahoo’s Flickr Adds New Features

Users of Yahoo’s Flickr photo sharing/search service might be interested in learning that two new features have just been introduced.

First, say hello to Flickr “Intrestingness.” The most interesting/popular photos are displayed in a calendar view highlighting the most popular photo in each calendar day. I’m sure many people will also use the service to measure Flickr image buzz.

Second, results clustering has come to Flickr.

…if you search for photos of “turkey” you will get one set of results related to turkey birds and a separate set of results for photos related to the country Turkey. The clustering feature will be automatically delivered when a user searches on tags.

You’ll find a link to view clusters in the upper-left corner of a results page.

I ran a Flickr search for “telephone” and found three clusters of telephone-related images. Cluster one included images tagged with the words like phones, booth, and phonebooth. The second cluster included images with terms like poles, wires, and sky. Finally, cluster three included images tagged with red, macro, green and found lots of images of UK phone booths. (-: Overall, the clustering in my sample search was useful but one search doesn’t make a service. I also found images in the clusters that didn’t make sense. For example, this image appeared in the poles, wires and sky cluster. Here’s another example. This image from the red, macro, green cluster contains an image of a person on a telephone but I can’t figure why it made the cluster. Of course, it’s an early release and as Elvis Costello says, “accidents will happen.”

Finally, I continue have concerns with tags (for group use) but we can save that for later. However, I’ll toss this comment out now. Take a look at this beautiful image that’s tagged “London.” What does the image really have to do with London? Wouldn’t it be useful if a field was available for the photographer to list where the image was taken. It could help provide for more precise retrieval/clusters as the Flickr database grows larger while at the same time providing more access points for the individual photographer to find material in their own collection. The same goes for date tags. Is the image about 2005 or is it an image during 2005? In other words, how about a “fielded tagging” option from Flickr and other tagging services?

More info about the new Flickr services on the Flickr Blog.

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