Friday, May 7, 2010

Wednesday Search Challenge / Answer (on Friday, May 7, 2010): Finding similar images

It's been a fascinating week.  I'm in Hyderabad, India to teach classes at Google on "How to Search."  I know that sounds odd, but that's what's making this hugely fascinating.  Turns out that there's a lot to learn about search, even if you work at Google.  So I'm here, teaching my fellow Indian Googlers how to be better at search.  

And THAT'S why there was no Wednesday search challenge this week.  So I thought I'd give you an example from one of my discussions with people here this week.  It's somewhat of a continuation from last week's challenge, so it's a nice segue.  (And if you're not sure what "segue" means, you can always [ define:segue ] )  

The challenge this week comes from a Googler who wanted to find pictures of men and women in a "standard pose, facing forward, on a white background."  That is, just standing there, looking at the camera. 

Initially I thought this was incredibly hard.  HOW are you going to describe that ("standard pose...") to a search engine? 

Turns out you don't have to.  Here's what I did... 

Step 1:  In Google Image search, describe the thing you're looking for.  In this case, [ man standing ] 

You then search down a few pages until you find an image that's pretty much what you're searching for... in this case, the man standing on the white background in the lower right.  

Step 2:  See that little blue link below the image of the business man?  That lets you Find Similar Images... that is, ones that look a lot like this!  

As you can see, this works perfectly for the search I'm trying to do.  

With "Find similar images" searches that were previously impossible now become practical... even fast.  

Check it out on an image you'd like to see multiples of.  Some great examples:  Find 5 different photos of the uncompleted Eiffel Tower.  Find 10 different images of a red rose.  Or 30 different Venn diagrams.  Once you get the hang of it, this will be a tactic to remember! 

Search on! 

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