Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Why focus on the web?

Some of my friends and colleagues have asked me why, in this age of photo-sharing websites such as Flickr, the focus Behold's research are images from the web. There is no doubt that Flickr is a very exciting platform for developing image search engines of all kinds, Retrievr being one excellent example. Retieving images from the web, however, can pose two additional challenges. On average, the pictures tend to be of pretty bad quality (for example see some random images in Behold). And, importantly, website owners are not incentivised to tag their photos properly. The first problem forces one to explicitly model junk images likely to be irrelevant for any query, which is an interesting research problem in itself. The second shortcoming can be compensated by looking at the interplay between image content and html metadata (a feature that was recently added into Behold), and an interesting question is how to find the right way to combine the two. That being said, there is no reason why we shouldn't apply Behold to images from Flickr one day.

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