Image searching


I was lead to this from Doug Belshaw’s newsletter. The site is called Same Energy. It’s a website devoted to finding images for you.

So, what makes this stand out in an environment full of search engine?

For the most part, search engines accept the descriptors that you send them and does its best to locate images that meet those descriptors. If you’re really good about describing what you want, you have success. If you aren’t that good, you might go back and add a few more terms to tighten up the descriptor. Or, if you’re in a hurry or you’re a student, you take the best fit and move on.

Same Energy works nicely to help you refine your search.

We believe that image search should be visual, using only a minimum of words. And we believe it should integrate a rich visual understanding, capturing the artistic style and overall mood of an image, not just the objects in it.

So, I put it to the test and promptly went down a rabbit hole!

For yucks, I started with the search “Toronto” and got this.

Now, we know that Toronto is more than the CN Tower.

I found a picture of a cute pooch sitting with the City Hall in the background which led me to this.

A few more clicks and I was well off the track from my original search or another way of looking at it was I was refining my search as I went.

Now, a starting point of “Toronto” isn’t the best of starts. Anyone who has ever taught students how to search knows that.

I went back and started with some more specific search terms like “White German Shepherd” and found that I could refine an image search nicely.

I found it responsive and very easy to zero in on things I’m in search of very quickly. Certainly much quicker than trying to describe the item in words.

You can create an account for yourself to download the images or create collections. This is a very interesting refreshing approach to finding images. The author warns that it’s in Beta and will likely change but what online doesn’t these days.

The author is very open about how it works.

The default feeds available on the home page are algorithmically curated: a seed of 5-20 images are selected by hand, then our system builds the feed by scanning millions of images in our index to find good matches for the seed images. You can create feeds in just the same way: save images to create a collection of seed images, then look at the recommended images.

I found the experience fascinating and look forward to hearing more about this search engine as it matures and grows based on feedback from users.

As always, I’d encourage you to take a look and share your thoughts about it in the comments below.

How did you search?


One of my morning indulgences, thanks to my friend Craig is playing 7 Little Words. And, one of the clues in one of the bonus puzzles this morning was:

early search engine – 9 letters

Of course, I threw out Google right away for two reasons. It’s not 9 letters and it wasn’t one of the early search engines.

I didn’t have to think too long until I came up with the answer – Altavista.

That certainly took me back a ways.

In the district, we had a group of CAITs that met with me every Friday to plan what initiatives and resources would be discussed with their schools in the upcoming week. In the late 1900s, we had rolled out internet access to schools and everyone was excited about using it in the classroom.

After all, you didn’t need to go to the library any longer and book out the encyclopedia volume for your topics; you could just search for it. One of the activities that we did was evaluate search engines because we wanted to get the best resource in the hands of students.

Altavista was part of the group we looked at. But not the only one. Courtesy of the Wayback Machine, here are some screen captures. It’s interesting to see what was important to have on the page of the day.

Altavista


Excite

Lycos

Yahoo!

Looking back now, it’s very clear that, not only were they search engines, but they were also web portals to information. You could easily find something by searching by category.

And there always was a shopping offer on the page.

One morning one of the CAITs, Ric, came in and shared that he’d heard about this new resource called Google. We tried it and liked it. Like millions of others, it became the default and off we went.

It’s still the default search engine for many web browsers who support it in that manner. Of course, the skillful know that every browser has the ability to change that to other ones. A popular one that respects privacy is DuckDuckGo. But there are others.

In fact, there are lots of options these days including Ecosia which plants trees just by you using it. Privacy takes on importance to many and here’s a list of privacy focused search engines.

As for my original list, I checked them out to see where they are today.

  • Altavista now resolves to Yahoo!
  • Excite is still there working as a portal and search
  • Lycos is there as a search engine and link to other services
  • Yahoo! is still active as well serving both search and a portal. It nicely has a Canadian landing page

Searching and search engines have been intriguing to me and I’ve probably done way more experimenting than I needed! In a way, it saddens me that many students these days just go with the defaults and use Google or Bing depending upon their browser. There is another world out there.

There’s a rich history of innovation, design, searching philosophy and concerns about privacy that they may never know.

How about you? Did you start out in Google-land or does your history go back further?

Search and save


This search engine has hit the popularity scene in some of the circles I swim in online. If your interests include doing something about climate change, this is something that you might want to check out.

The website is ekoru and there are a couple of interesting claims.

  1. All of your searches are private. We don’t log any data on our servers.
  2. Every search helps raise money for Big Blue Ocean Cleanup!

The site does incorporate cookies and if you open the information menu in the top right, it shows you what it’s setting. That was interesting to be that open right up front. I’ve often been curious about what has been set on my computer and that typically means going under the hood.

ekoru didn’t like me the first time that I visited. Regular reader know that I use advertising blocking on my browsers. At ekoru, this gives you a sad Panda graphic and a request to unblock.

I visited again in a private window and did the same search. The first part of results are advertising which are labelled as such but you do have to go looking for the little “ad” notation. The ads come from the Microsoft advertising network and there’s a link there to take you to their privacy policy.

For people that don’t use an ad blocker, I suspect that they know the routine and deal with it regularly.

So, if you’re looking for a search engine that claims to do social good, check it out.

Search them all


A long time ago, I had written a script that kind of did was Soovle does. It’s just that Soovle does it so much better.

It was based on the premise that if searching on one search engine was good then searching on more than one can be better.

So, let’s say you’re interested in finding out more about “Winnipeg”, you can give it a shot here.

The blank screen when you land looks like this.

But, start doing a search and watch them all come to life. So, it’s off to Winnipeg we go…

Results from all of the search engines are populated as you type. It’s kind of neat to play with your arrow keys to rotate the results and check them out.

There are more tips in the secret link in the top right. If you don’t like the default choices of search engines or layout, the engines link let you customize things.

When you find a search of interest, clicking on it will take you to the result in the search engine selected.

But wait, there’s more. Before Lisa and Aviva jump in with suggestions on media literacy … it’s an interesting comparison between search engines to see what they return. I’ve mentioned before that it’s frustrating when a student finds what they’re looking for in the first page of results from a Google Search. This is a powerful visual reminder that that is but one way to search.

If you live in Winnipeg right now, I would imagine that knowing when and where the Grey Cup Parade happens would be a significant thing. What search engine has the same priority? Why isn’t that the first result from them all? Can you make them all return information about the parade?

The more you know, the better a researcher you’ll be.

Ranking everyone


It was a great musical weekend here – the 2018 and 2019 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame shows were broadcast on HBO – and we were fixated.

So many great names, so many great songs, so many great memories.

We enjoyed both shows and found the 2018 induction show particularly relevant with Sister Rosetta Tharpe, The Moody Blues, Dire Straits, Nina Simone, and Bon Jovi among others standing out as they were inducted.

Don’t know these performers. Shame on you! <grin> They’ll live on in YouTube videos though.

Now, I’m an impatient person. While watching one induction, I wanted to know who else was being inducted! We can thank search engines for that ability.

As I’m constantly doing, I fell victim to a click bait story.

All 221 Artists in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Ranked From Best to Worst

The top five are tough to challenge…

  • Chuck Berry
  • The Beatles
  • Bob Dylan
  • Elvis Presley
  • James Brown

Although you might want to challenge the order. The lengthy list was so worth the time to scroll through to see where Springsteen was, wondering why Crosby, Stills, and Nash didn’t have a Young, seeing Ronnie Wood’s name appear more than once (Rod Stewart too) and noting the influence of various forms of music in the big picture.

Of course, the author of the article got the order wrong. 😊 But, then again, who could order 221 artists and get it right? The comments at the bottom are testament to that. It’s an opinion piece, folks. Don’t sweat it. Thankfully, some of the commenters provided some of the missing artists so that they might be considered for future years.

What was impressive to the show was that, because it was shown on HBO, there were no commercials. What a refreshing way to watch an award show as opposed to commercial television. It was a complete game changer and I don’t use that expression often.

And still, I went to bed wondering about the list. How could anyone rank numbers 220 and 221 that low?