My Photos, Photoblog, and the Importance of Photo Sharing Sites to Media Center and Search

Cold Steel America

So if you think that posting has been a little light at Thomas Hawk recently I have to extend my apologies. As many of you know digital photography is a huge hobby of mine and lately I have been spending hours and hours of time shooting new photos and playing around on Flickr. While my average posts per day is probably not down that much, many more of the posts are photographs. I imagine for a while I’ll probably be spending even more time on the photography side of things. It’s just kind of got me at the moment. I know I owe a few of you posts and I promise to have them up shortly. My most favorited Flickr photos by the way are here.

This being said, to keep from over-running Thomas Hawk’s Digital Connection with photos, I’m going to only start posting new photos when they are “favorited” by at least two people on Flickr. These are probably my better photos anyways. I’m going to put everything up at Flickr and if you are into seeing all of it feel free to subscribe to the RSS feed for my Flickr photostream which includes it all. This should make Thomas Hawk load faster as it won’t be so photo intensive going forward.

By the way I posted in some comments over at Ed Bott’s site today about why I think Microsoft needs to jump on the photo sharing bandwagon. I think that this would be a great thing to get a toe hold into image search for MSN Search as well as a great way to potentially provide photo content out of the box for new Media Center users.

Reprinted below are the comments I posted to Ed’s blog.

“Of course Microsoft could also always choose to create their own version of Flickr if they wanted to as well. I did a post for the road map a while back here.

One of the powerful aspects of owning a top photo sharing site is the possibility to own image search in the future. Microsoft, Google, Ask Jeeves and Yahoo! all have extremely mediocre image search.

Search for a photo of the Golden Gate Bridge on Google image search and see what you get — super mediocre images of a great photographic subject. By owning an online photo sharing site Microsoft could use user online ranking data to prioritize image search and make MSN image search the clear leader. Although image search is a much smaller subset than text search it would be a powerful toehold in the Google dominated world.

Although I have not seen this type of thing appear at Yahoo! yet (and with the strong grass roots community spirit at Flickr you’d probably need user buy in and even a possible opt in approach) I suspect you may see it in the future. Yahoo! has a huge leg up owning Flickr.

If you want to see the type of amazing photography I’m talking about check out my current favorite’s list at Flickr.

If these images showed up as top image searches for their respective search categories no one would use any other image search service.

Yahoo! got Flickr on the cheap. Microsoft should be developing something like this right now in order to compete in the future. They also have a natural tie in with Media Center. If Microsoft tied in an online photo sharing service with my picture slide shows you would have instant built in content on a PC. These powerful slide shows would add to the wow factor of the product.

It works on a lot of different levels.

To best illustrate this idea do three respective searches for the term “bridesmaids” at Yahoo!, MSNSearch and Google Search using all three respective image searches.


Now imagine if instead of those photo search results, instead you got this. This photo has been named a favorite at Flickr 289 times.

By using user ranking information to drive photo search you could dramatically improve the photo search user experience and I’m sure that this is something that Yahoo! is thinking about with their Flickr acquisition as we speak.

By the way, I do think that Microsoft should load MCE machines with photography from photobloggers preloaded on to the machines. They should also probably preload a folder full of classical art, all of which should be in the public domain by now. By doing this you give people a better instant on and wow experience than the current four really boring stock photos that Microsoft includes in the my photos folder today. I’m sure that there are many undiscovered photobloggers (myself included) who would be thrilled with the promotional aspect of this and be willing to at no cost provide images to Microsoft for this purpose.

12 Replies to “My Photos, Photoblog, and the Importance of Photo Sharing Sites to Media Center and Search”

  1. MSN Spaces is Microsoft’s online photo story. Check it out – it is v1, but the photo stuff is pretty slick and just going to get better.

  2. Mike I just checked out your photos (nice wedding photos by the way) on your site but I didn’t get the sense that MSN Spaces really had any depth with regards to a photo sharing community. There didn’t appear to be any way to mark favorites, comments, make contacts, etc. Am I missing something? Am I in the wrong place?

  3. I am familar with Ask Jeeves and actually in some ways it’s superior to Google. I’ve pulled a lot of art off of image searches there. Still, it could not beat a truly ranked site like flickr. It amazes me that we have not seen more innovation in this space.

  4. I appreciate that you are into digital photography, but I hope you can recognize that not everyone shares your views. I am a huge media center fan, and I enjoy many of your posts. I don’t ever care to see pictures though and if they continue to be a large part of your blog I will unsubscribe. Could you create a seperate blog for your photos?

  5. [Disclosure: I am a founder of Webshots and employee of CNET Networks, Inc.]

    I enjoyed your analysis. You missed out on a big one though. Webshots has over 170 million high res images indexed from users and services close to a million queries today. If you are looking for places on earth or things, chances are someone has been there or has one and has created an album.

    We are also cooking up some great stuff like xml feeds of any query which will be pretty cool when the index is updating at 1M/per day.

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