Where librarians and the internet meet: internet searching, Web 2.0 resources, search engines and their development. These are my personal views and not those of CILIP or any other organisation I may be associated with.
WeSEE:Search and Discovery for visual social content Simply upload an image, and WeSEE will try and find similar results for you. Reasonably quick and easy to use. Most of the images that it finds so far come from Pinterest and a few other sites, so it's a bit limited, but hopefully it'll improve.
A search engine with taste. This is a search engine for designers. It pulls in image content from a very small selection of sites at the moment, but some of the images it finds are really unique and high quality. It's not clear from either the engine or the page that you land on as to the copyright situation for each image, but if you're looking for inspiration, this is a great idea.
Freepik is a search engine that helps graphic and web designers to locate free photos, illustrations, PSD and vectors for using in websites, banners, presentations, magazines and advertising. The images are quite fun, and there's a good mix of them - 'library' had over 600 results for example. I'm a little uncertain over the rights to use the images though - Freepik is a little hazy on that, telling you to check with the owner of the image. Obviously right to do so of course, but ideally I want to save time by knowing in advance I'm going to be ok to use an image. That aside, there's some good stuff here.
They say: "Finding free quality images is a tedious task - mainly due to
copyright issues, attribution requirements, or simply lack of quality.
This inspired us to create Pixabay - a repository for outstanding public
You can freely use any image from this website in digital and
printed format, for personal and commercial use, without attribution
requirement to the original author. Currently there are 71888 images available: 48115 Photos + 23773 Clipart"
It's a very nice site, and to be honest, rather puts the Clip Art Lord site mentioned below to shame. I did a search on 'libraries' and got some really nice images - both photographs and icons. There are various categories that you can search in, and you can also search via photographers or cameras. You can join the site and leave comments as well. This is a site that's really worth taking some time over, and I'm pretty sure that you'll come back to it in the future when you need images for a presentation or a report.
If you are in need of clip art that you can freely use without worrying about copyright restrictions, the latest site that I've found is the Clip Art Lord website. It's fairly basic, but it does have some nice images that you can use, and they do explain very clearly where the item has come from. To be fair, it's not overbrimming with images, but you may strike lucky.
Qwant was launched in January 2013 having been in development for a couple of years. It's an interesting engine, because it really tries very hard to do a whole range of different things. It says of itself "QWANT offers the first web and social service, where you can dynamically
use the power of your own brain to refine search in classic Web, Live,
Social, Media and Shopping verticals so as to reach exactly the
information and the people you are looking for, those that answer your
exact query of the moment." What this means in practice is that you run a search and get 6 datasets to play with. It looks a little like this:
A series of images/video results across the top, and then 5 columns - Web, Live, Qnowledge Graph, Social and Shopping. They are very cramped, but you see enough to let you make a reasonable choice. However, if you want a different layout, these are available: classic (as above), mosaic, media, people. The results will be reformatted for you according to choice. Results can be bookmarked and saved, which is a nice function and there's also a 'hot trends' feature, which I suspect is being pulled from Twitter.
Searchers can also refine their results as well, though I didn't find this worked terribly well, and I kept getting no results when I should have got several (starting a search with 'library' and using CILIP to refine for example) and I wasn't happy that the engine reinterpreted my search without giving me the opportunity to override - turning 'CILIP' into 'clip' for example, which is irritating and unnecessary. It was also a shame that there wasn't an Advanced Search option, and they really are not clear on exactly where their results are being pulled from.
In summary however, it's a good start, and I'll be interested to see exactly how it develops. Certainly worth giving it a go and if you do - let me know what you think!
Not what you expect is it? However, it happens to be true. Google recently revamped the way in which they display images on the screen to make it easy and quicker to view them. Selecting an image now brings it centre stage so that it can be seen more easily, and you can flip through them just using the keyboard. They talk about it in more depth in their blog. However, what they're also doing is ironically trying to make it harder to view adult images. Mashable has a good story on the background to this, and got a quote from Google:
"We are not censoring any adult content, and want to show users exactly
what they are looking for. But we aim not to show sexually-explicit
results unless a user is specifically searching for them. We use
algorithms to select the most relevant results for a given query. If
you're looking for adult content, you can find it without having to
change the default setting — you just may need to be more explicit in
your query if your search terms are potentially ambiguous. The image
search settings now work the same way as in Web search."
So basically what they've done is put an automatic filter on images which defaults to safe search, irrespective of what you may choose to search for. The way that they have chosen to implement this on blocking words. So if I run a search for 'blue tits' this is the result that I get IF I have the safe search filter on:
Basically, there's lots of blue, and no tits, if you'll excuse my language. The word 'tits' has been filtered out of my search. So in order for a child to be able to do a search for the bird, the safe search filter has to be turned OFF. When that happens - plenty of images of birds and no naked flesh to be seen anywhere. So Google is perfectly capable of working out that my 'blue tits' search is looking for the bird, and not any adult content, rendering the initial filtering of the word absolutely pointless. If I do want to look at something salacious I have to add in more terms, so blue tits porn does bring up images of naked female torsos, but also explicit sexual acts.
Let's look at another example. If I search for 'breasts' with the filter turned on I get a lot of images of women in underwear, but it's perfectly fine, and what I'd expect. Turning the filter off gives me almost exactly the same set of results however. As Google says, I need to be more explicit in my search terms, but I also have to guess what those terms are! Without wishing to get into the whole schoolboy 'dirty words in the dictionary' saga, a search for breasts tits didn't bring up anything particularly naughty, neither did breasts adult, but breasts porn did. Now, you could agree that if someone wants to look for porn that's entirely up to them and why is this an issue? Simply because Google is making decisions for me once again. Any search engine which makes me have to think how IT wants me to think isn't doing its job correctly.
Futhermore, I have my doubts as to the functionality in the first place. A safe search for 'melons' produces 2 images in the first three where topless women are hiding their breasts behind the fruits. Now yes I know, this is all very juvenile, but it's making a very specific association, and one that children may well not have considered. The 'joke' is continued several times as I scroll down the list of results.
The ability to search images is further compromised because of the range and type of words that Google has deemed unsuitable for safe searching, such as 'naked', 'nude', (but 'unclothed' is ok apparently), boobs (but not Bristols), jugs is acceptable, despite returning some images that I wouldn't consider appropriate for safe search. 'Penis' is acceptable, and the third image in shows a sexual act! (Your results may well differ from mine, should you decide that you need to take a look for yourself.) Various terms for female genitalia also produce very explicit results (often of a medical nature showing things that only a medical person should be looking at I reckon!) I could continue, but quite frankly I was getting bored thinking up words to go off and check. The main point is Google has now fundamentally broken image searching. In order to find entirely innocent images safe search has to be turned off. When safe search is turned off, I have to guess what terms Google will regard as triggering a pornographic search. Since I don't know what these terms are, it's possible I'll trigger a 'porn term' entirely by accident.
Of course, it doesn't have to be this way at all. Image searching over at Bing is a far more sane and civilised approach. It has three levels of moderation - strict safesearch, moderate (which is the default) and none. My blue tits search on strict works perfectly, giving me exactly what I would have expected. Moderate safesearch - same thing, and it's only when I turn it off completely that I get adult images. That's exactly how a moderation system should work in my opinion, and Google has got it hopelessly wrong. Furthermore, this is going to be replicated right across search engines, because many of the children's search engines use a version of Google custom search, and those results are going to be broken as well.
One of the things that holds people back from using Google+ is the age old problem of finding people to follow. The Google Plus Directory is a pretty good solution to that problem. It provides a variety of different ways of finding people - by name, occupation, countries, schools, employers and so on. You can also link your Twitter and LinkedIn accounts to it as well, in order to match up with the followers on there.
I can also filter searches once I have run them. For example, there are 6,234 people who define themselves as a librarian, 159 of those are in the UK, 3,916 are female, and 36 are based in London. Having found the people that I'm interested in I can view their profiles and add them to my circles quickly and easily.
If I allow the resource access to my Google profile it can then suggest people that I might want to add to circles based on my location, my college, and similar professions. It's not a very long list, but interesting nonetheless.
Findpeopleonplus is a good tool, and one that's worth remembering when you're either looking for people to link up with on Google+ or just doing a people search.
The team at Flickr is offering a gift of three months extra on a pro account. This applies to existing Pro account holders and also people who take up an account. The fact that this is coming at Christmas is nice, but I suspect that it's got more to do with the idea of grabbing disgruntled Instagram users. I don't know how long the offer is for, so grab it while it's available, if you're interested.