Larry, Sergey, Shirts and Whatshispickle

I’ve been playing around with Riya a bit the past week or so. And it’s a lot of fun. It doesn’t have the social stick like superglue thing that Flickr has, but the facial recognition stuff is interesting to use and watch as it goes through your photos.

The value of Riya for finding photos of your friends and stuff will only get better as more and more of your friends get on the site and upload their photos of themselves and you to the service.

The service is free which is nice and there is no bandwidth restrictions or storage restrictions making it an ideal place even for someone who is not interested in the technology so much but just wants a place to backup their large digital photo collection online. It’s surprising to me that they will let you upload and store 4,000 photos there for free when Flickr or the other photo sharing site charge for big use — but I guess that makes it the best deal in town for photo storage. They probably are willing to subsidize this portion of the deal for now in order to build a bigger critical mass on the site.

It’s up to you whether or not you want to make your photos public or private and if you mark them private then only you or your approved and designated contacts can see them.

Where I could see Riya really taking off is with families. Because it’s free it would appeal to everyone in the family even those that are not as into photosharing as you are. And because your brother/sister/mother/cousin/bestfriend/dog/cat/petsnake/petrock, etc. is too lazy to tag things, the photo recognition stuff will capture a lot of this metadata for you.

You have to train Riya which is easy enough to do and it gets smarter and smarter over time. Although in Tara’s example above Riya didn’t catch Bill Clinton’s photo, this could be because Bill is trying to keep a low profile these days. Or maybe Riya is part of some secret Republican conspiracy out there (kidding, kidding of course).

The uploader for the site is especially robust. I’ve never been all that happy with Flickr’s bulk uploader. It’s much better today, but over the years I’ve had tons of problems getting it to do batch uploading jobs for me. Riya’s uploader on the other hand is rock solid. The very first time I used it I was able to upload over 4,000 high res photos to the site without a single interuption in service. Very impressive. It took about 40 hours of course and did a lot of this work while I was away from the computer, but still impressive the stability built into the uploader.

Riya still has hiccups and bugs here and there but that is expected for beta software. These of course should work themselves out over time. The biggest thing the site needs now is you and all your friends to use it. Like any social networking software the power of these sites are the number of users. It’s not as much fun to go there and do a tag search for Thomas Hawk and only see the 4 photos you uploaded yourself. But as more and more people start uploading their shots there and tagging them this has the potential to get pretty big.

To get a sense of how it works though for someone with more friends on the site you can check out a search for Tara Hunt’s name. Tara of course works for Riya and has all her friends on the site, but if you and all your friends were on the site it would be just as easy for you to find all these photos of yourself. The power of the site for this purpose over Flickr is that the photo recognition feature takes a lot of the work out of it for those too lazy to tag.

Riya also plans on working to allow you to export your tagged photos to both Flickr and your own computer hard drive which is very cool and will represent a great filter of sorts to run your photos through as you take them for Vista when it’s released and photo tagging becomes much more significant for Microsoft.

Privacy of course has been and will continue to be a big concern for Riya. But I should stress that it’s super easy to make all of your photos private if this is a concern of yours, or just certain albums private, or whatever.

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One Comment

  1. Greg Smith says:

    I’m waiting for this in a iPhoto plugin.