What is this picture of? How do you search it?

Take a look at this photo – I found it on my hard drive about 3 months ago – and didn’t know what it was in the photo.  I stuck it in my “dunno” photo folder.  I couldn’t remember where I got it from, or why I had it.

As chance would have it, I saw the picture today in a blog post – and now I have identified it.

But how do you search for photos like this?  Google Image Search, sure – but what do you type in to search or this particular photo?  “Big gun on a Jeep”?  Nope.  “Phallic missile black and white”? Nope.

You can’t find it unless you know what it is.  At least a little bit about what it is. Try “Davy Crockett missile” – aha!  Now you are getting close!  You won’t find an exact match, but you’ll find something VERY close – close enough to at least identify what the weapon is, even if it tells you nothing about the photo.

Google is playing with tagging photos through a “game” in which you type “tags” for photos and try to match as many of the tags with another “player” as possible.  That’s a great idea.  It’ll take forever to tag even a fraction of the pictures on the web though – especially since there isn’t any mechanism to “mark all photos like this one with the same tags as this one”.

So what’s my point?  Simple – picture searching could be a LOT better – and Google could make it a lot better.  How?  First, buy Like.com.  Use their technology when scanning the web looking at images.  I’m almost certain that Like’s technology, if deployed by Google, could have recognized enough of this picture to at least tell me what the “main thing” in it is.

And Google should show me ALL the links to a given picture once the picture is identified – knowing the context in which the picture is being used will tell me a lot about the picture.  Better yet – let me SUBMIT a picture to Google Image Search.  Say the picture above.  I upload it and Google goes and does it’s magic (Via Like’s image comparison technology)  and comes back with a list of relevant links to “likewise” pictures.  THAT would be cool.  And useful.

BTW, the blog I found the picture on?  Damned Interesting – and the name doesn’t disappoint.  They don’t post as often as I would like, but it is a very informative blog.

And one more BTW – if I had the money to buy one technology company today it would be Like.com.  They started as Riya (I met the founders at Stanford in 2005 at the “When 2.0” conference) and they have some really cool technology that someone is going to get very rich off of.