By samoore (1251644910|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)
WOW! I wish I would have known about half of the photo search engines we talked about in my BIT 330 class before I left for Salamanca, Spain this summer.
Sometime around March 30, I made the split decision to apply to a seven week home-stay and study abroad program in Salamanca, Spain. I knew absolutely no one going on the trip and knew almost nothing about Salamanca. I am a very visually oriented person, so naturally I turned to the internet to search for any and all pictures I could find about Salamanca. Salamanca is a mid-sized college town not unlike Ann Arbor, so I assumed that it would be pretty similar in terms of shopping, food, and nightlife. However, when I searched for images of Salamanca using the tools I knew about at that time, a lot of what I found was of very touristy stuff in the city like the cathedral. I was getting pretty discouraged and a little afraid I was about to spend my seven weeks in a boring, historical city.
So, flash forward to late June when my bus pulled onto Gran Via, the main drag of Salamanca. I could NOT believe my eyes. Salamanca was a bustling city that reminded me more of a much larger city than Ann Arbor. There were hundreds of bars and restaurants, all sorts of shopping, and an overall awesome vibe on the streets. My attempt to predict what life in Salamanca would be like using image searches couldn't have been more of a failure.
Using New Search Tools
I naturally I thought about this search tool failure as Professor Moore went over all of the different search tools for images. A couple of them caught my eye, so I thought I would try my Salamanca search again and see if I could yield results that were more representative of the city as a whole. I started with CompFight, a site that searches the public image site Flickr. I used the following query:
To be honest, I did get a lot of the historical stuff, but that really is Salamanca. What is important is that CompFight eliminated the "boring" from the "boring, historical city" I imagined before. CompFight, for lack of a better word, returned a lot of "artsy" photos. So, the material is similar in content to what I saw before, but the types of emotions the images invoke are way different. I think that I would have been much more excited about my trip had I seen these pictures.
Knowing what I know now about Salamanca, I'd say the picture to the left is about as good as a picture as I could have seen before I left. It might be a little bit non-business school student of me to say this, but what I retrieved before I left were often just pictures of the environment, and this time the images I yielded were more of people interacting with their environment.
I then decided to use Exalead because it is a search engine based out of Europe. I used the same query i used on CompFight and got some really interesting results. See, Salamanca is most famous for its Plaza (pictured above) and so when I search for it, I almost always get a ton of picture results of the Plaza Mayor. However, on Exalead, if the top 12 results there was only one picture of the plaza.
I believe the result I included on this page is of the city as seen from the top of the cathedral. It really is a beautiful place!!
Basically, I learned that image searching can be a lot more fun than just Google Image. I have used that tool almost exclusively for years, but now I know that I was missing out on a TON of what is out there on the web. What I found particularly interesting about using other image search tools, is that I feel like they all have their own type of personality. CompFight, for instance, searches personal images that people post onto Flickr so those results are often a lot more "artsy" looking and I really enjoyed the types of results I yielded.