Is A Picture Worth 1,024 Words?

from the photos-as-information dept

One of the things we're always interested in here at Techdirt are new ways to use technology -- specifically when it comes to the sharing and exchange of information. While there's been a lot of attention paid to the online photo space over the past few months, most have just been focused on the recreating a photo album for aesthetic purposes, rather than real information sharing. That's why it's been interesting to play around with Spogger, a new service (and company), launching today, that is much more focused on information sharing through photographs (mainly cameraphones). The idea being that you can often convey a lot of information in a simple photograph, and with the ease of snapping a cameraphone photo and sending it to a site, it's possible to provide near real-time info on just about anything -- from items for sale, to traffic conditions, to the daily lunch specials at the deli down the street. The other thing that is interesting about the service is that, while it does jump on that tagging bandwagon, it also steps away from it with a classification system that lets people propose and vote on the proper classification for images. The problem that's clearly going to come to "tagging," is spam. Tagging, in many ways, is just a slight update on keywords -- which within the search engine world quickly fell victim to spam. However, in putting together a proposal and classification system, it allows for the community to properly organize things as a group -- and keep out the spam. This also isn't a new idea -- but seems to have been lost in the recent fascination with completely open tagging. In this particular case, with Spogger, the risk with the classification system is that different people could feel that the images/information should be classified in different ways (it's all relative, you see...), but with the combination of voting classifications and tags perhaps a happy middle ground is reached. Still, what remains to be seen is how seriously people use imagery for information sharing. Snapshots, historically, are more about aesthetics than pure information sharing -- and while the rise of cameraphones (which both make it easy to take photos anywhere and to share them) makes it easier to use photos for information gathering and sharing, it is still a mental and behavioral change, that not everyone will be willing to make. However, as the lines between the digital and analog worlds merge, we're going to be seeing more innovative uses of technology for gathering and sharing information.
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