I often find myself asking"What's THAT?"
A Regular SRS Reader pointed out that this is the 3rd or 4th time we've had an SRS Challenge asking "What's that?" It's a fair point--we do get these kinds of posts a lot, but mostly because even the task of just figuring out what something is... well, it's still fairly hard. We've done logo identification, radiotelescope identification, flower identification.. and so on.
Since these kinds of questions come up ALL THE TIME I'm going to invent a new term for the process: thing identification.
Last week's Challenge was for three things I found around the house. Can you figure out "What's that?" for each of these pictures? The first is a gadget by the window, the second is something I found in a garage, and the third is a photo of a place I'd visited... but forgotten about.
Here's what I did...
1. This is an image of a widget in my house. Unfortunately, it's broken. I want to get a replacement, but I don't want to go to the hardware store and say "it's that thingie you turn to open the window."
Can you figure out what the correct name of this thing-with-a-handle-you-turn-to-open-the-window?
The thing that's slightly tricky here is that this thing is called an "operator." (See that in the title of the video and in the title of the HomeDepot result?
2. I found this in my Mom's garage this week. Here's a decent close-up photo of the gadget. It's about 3" in diameter (7.6 cm). It's a part of something larger. Can you figure out what it is? (And what it's a part of?) I believe it used to be a glossy black color, but time has made it a little beat up. Any ideas?
|Image from the Cooper Hewitt collection.|
3. This is a picture of a place I visited a while ago. Unfortunately, it was before I was using Google Photos, so I couldn't just look this up. If you can tell the name of the place AND what kind of structure this is, I'm sure I'd recognize it. What's that? AND... Where's that?
Several people reported that a good old Search-By-Image tells us that this is a trullo house in Puglia, Italy, a dwelling make of carefully stacked dry stones.
Even more specifically, it's probably in the town to Alberobello, which has an abundance of well-maintained trulli houses. The story goes that in 1481 the Counts of Conversano D'Acquaviva D'Aragona, owners of the territory of Alberobello, imposed a tax on the use of mortar in houses. Consequently, the residents built their dwellings without mortar to avoid paying the despised tax.
I managed to find the original image in my Photos collection and using the EXIF trick, discovered exactly where I'd taken the photo. (See red drop pin below.)
There are a few here...
1. Thing identification is often Search-by-image... and when it's not, the simplest possible description of the thing ("rotate crank handle window") will often work to get you to a page for identification.
2. When that fails, get some additional context! In our typewriter example above, there just wasn't really enough information to do a good thing identification. In this case, you really needed to know that it was part of a typewriter. With that additional context, we could figure it out. (And if you don't have enough context, ask!)
3. Once you find the objects, be sure to look into the background. Often, the most fascinating stories are the ones that start with a new thing-identification. Now that you know the name, you can do a search on that and start to get some of the history. Following the story of the trulli is fascinating. But you start with an identification and go forward from there.