The Unsearchables

I’ve been having a lot of fun playing Colorwar on Twitter lately. The most recent event is a scavenger hunt run in Google Street View. GSV is made up of pictures taken from a car driving around various cities, and you can pretend you’re driving around as well. It comes in handy for getting a view of what a storefront looks like before going there, and similar simple tasks. But it also inadvertently captured people on the street and random events around town. Finding some of these events has been a real challenge for the scavenger hunt. For example, we needed to find a crossing guard. The presence of one relies on sheer chance that school was getting out just as a GSV truck drove by. Pretty slim odds, really. But there is absolutely no way to search for something like this other than simply checking every school in existence.

Some third party sites have stepped in and tried to fill that gap a little. Google Street View Gallery allows users to post links to specific images, which they can then tag. The tags and descriptions are then searchable. This system is handy, but still relies on a user randomly stumbling across something, thinking it is interesting, and then taking the effort to post it to the gallery with an adequate description. A very long chain of events, and something most people won’t deal with.

Google Street View represents a massive database of public images. All privacy issues aside, I would love for Google to test out some kind of image-recognition search in it. That would reveal a huge wealth of usable data. Or, with Google Maps’ APIs, maybe it’s possible for someone else to work on this. I don’t know.

But what I do know for sure is that we’ll only see more massive chunks of image data as time goes by. There will simply be too much for human eyes and minds to process – organizing it all will be a big challenge, and not something I’ve heard a lot about currently. I expect development in this area to explode in the near future.

Colorwar 2008

I am still a bit on the fence about Twitter. It has given birth to moments of profound productivity, but also moments of profound time wasting. But either way, one of my favorite things to come out of the service is Zefrank’s Colorwar 2008.

Colorwar is a series of decentralized team games, played via twitter. Some are synchronous, like Bingo called via a Twitter account. Others are asynchronous, like the current YoungMeNowMe challenge – recreate a childhood picture of yourself, then put the two side by side. The best submissions will get prizes.

Sometimes points are awarded by winning (as in Bingo), and other times just for participation. This setup breeds a great mix of competition and camaraderie. My team is the somewhat oddly named GoTeamPants, and we’re in second place right now!

And here’s my YoungMeNowMe submission:

I’m not entirely happy with it, but I still had a blast putting it together. This was the only young picture of myself that I had on hand.

We Like Stuff – Podcast launch

About two months ago, my friend Dave and I noticed that we have a lot of opinions. And, naturally, these opinions should be shared with the world. What better way to do this than a podcast?

We’ve spent time since then ironing out a number of technical kinks, and are finally at a place where we feel comfortable going public beyond a few friends who have provided very valuable feedback. We’re averaging an episode every two weeks or so, which I’m sort of impressed with myself about.

We settled on a generic title that won’t lock us into any one genre or format: We Like Stuff. Mostly we review things. Books, video games, movies, random tech stuff, etc. Whatever stuff we happen to be liking.

If you’d like to subscribe, the podcast’s RSS feed is here. Or our iTunes link (which doesn’t seem to have picked up the new episode yet, but should soon) is here.

I’m having a really good time doing this, and it feels great to be creating something. Extra special thanks go out to my co-conspirator Dave, whose audio editing and general Garageband wizardry has been indispensable.

Month ‘o Video

I sort of miss my picture a day projects, even if I did run out of steam near the end. With the news that Flickr now supports video, I’ve decided to post a video clip of something every day for a month. Could be just a couple of seconds, or maybe the full 90 second limit. Who knows? This will include a week at the beach, so there should at least be some nice scenery involved. Here it is: Month ‘o Video 1

Now I just wish I had a real video camera… all of these will be taken with my trusty Canon A520.

Today’s entry:

Ever wondered what The Final Countdown would sound like as a soundtrack for an NES game? Yeah, I didn’t either. But my keyboard has the right soundset, so I couldn’t resist.