Exploring Yahoo’s Photosharing Applications

Most of my use of Yahoo’s photosharing application, Flickr, involves posting images from patent applications, so that I can show them here. But I put some photographs on Flickr too, and I’ve even geo-tagged a few of them by dragging them to the location where the shots were taken on a map.

Yahoo has another application that works with Flickr, called ZoneTag, that allows you to take a picture with your phone, and upload it immediately to Flickr, with tags associated with the location. My phone doesn’t support it, so I haven’t tried. But it’s interesting.

What kinds of things might be possible with all of these images on Flickr that have locations attached to them?

I’ve gathered a number of links to recent papers and pages involving Flickr and tagging that describe some of the possibilities.

Trends and Patterns in Flickr Tags

Are there patterns and trends that show up in the tagging of images and events that can be applied to tagging in other areas?

That’s a question that’s raised in Towards Extracting Flickr Tag Semantics (pdf) The poster is an introduction to this research rather than a fully formed set of conclusions. But it’s an inquiry that may be worth watching.

For more details, and more research, this paper goes into depth – Towards Automatic Extraction of Event and Place Semantics from Flickr Tags (pdf)


While looking at papers, I ran across a reference to Zurfer, which is a prototype location-based photo browser from Yahoo! Research Labs. I really like the idea of exploring a place and being able to see images from that place captured by previous visitors.

I came across a couple of other projects that I hadn’t known about, involving the use of Flickr photos.


What might the most popular tags and photographs tell you about a place? Probably a lot.

Crowdscapes is a prototype mobile application that shows images from tags that you may not have used, about the locations that you are in. The ideas behind Crowdscapes are described in much further detail in its inventor’s Thesis Presentation.

FireEagle and Trip Tracker

There’s a mysterious demo location platform application from Yahoo Research with the name FireEagle.

I’m not actually sure what it does, except that it powers an application from a Yahoo Researcher named Trip Tracker.

Imagine a badge that will show you a person’s location, the weather conditions from that location, their time (depending upon their time zone), recent photos that they might have taken, images that they might have taken previously from around that place, and other Flickr images that might be somewhat relevant to that location.

World Explorer

In January, Yahoo released the World Explorer which allows you to explore parts of the world using tag maps showing geo-tagged Flickr images. Hover over a tag that appears on the map, and pictures from that area appear.

The Yahoo Research Berkeley blog goes into more detail on aspects of World Explorer in “Introducing: World Explorer and TagMaps” (No longer available).

There have been a few documents about World Explorer, like this poster on the topic which was presented at the WWW 2007 –Summarization of Online Image Collections via Implicit Feedback

A paper about the World Explorer application won an award for best paper at the ACM/IEEE-CS Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCDL) on June 20th – World Explorer: Visualizing Aggregate Data from Unstructured Text in Geo-Referenced Collections (pdf). It’s a highly recommended read – the details of the experiment and the discussion of the data, indexing methods, and conclusions are really well done.

And, the researchers ask the question in the conclusion of whether geo – tagged text from geo-referenced blogs could also be explored in a similar manner. That’s something that I would like to see.

User Motivations for Tagging

Many of the papers above looked at what happens when you aggregate tags, and attempt to look at trends and patterns. At the CHI 07, the motivations behind tags were looked at in more detail – Why We Tag: Motivations for Annotation in Mobile and Online Media (pdf)

The focus of this paper is upon three endeavors:

  • Examine the motivations for annotation and tagging in Flickr and ZoneTag via user interviews and other qualitative methods.
  • Describe a taxonomy of motivations to annotate content in this system.
  • Study the role of tag suggestion in the system; specifically, the ways these suggestions affect the behavior and patterns of tag use.

Privacy and Photo Sharing

Another paper presented at CHI 07 investigates privacy aspects of photo tagging – Over-Exposed? Privacy Patterns and Considerations in Online and Mobile Photo Sharing (pdf).

Within the context of sharing photos through Zonetag and Flickr, here are some of the areas explored in the paper:

  • Users’ considerations in making privacy decisions about online content.
  • The content- and context-based patterns of privacy decisions in an online photo sharing environment.
  • Ways in which different people make privacy policy decisions “in the moment”, and their strategy of dealing with such decisions in mobile settings.
  • User behavior regarding location disclosure and systems that maintain, and sometimes expose, long-term and persistent information about their location.

5 thoughts on “Exploring Yahoo’s Photosharing Applications”

  1. Looks like Fire Eagle is getting close enough to ready to have a presentation about yesterday:

    Oh Bay Area people, Learn about the Fire Eagle this Monday(link no longer available).

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