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By now, we all know about different uses of Google Image search. Yaara’s post on some vital Google Image Search hacks should always hold you in good stead. So much so, that I can bet a small part of my piggy bank that it is the preferred address you go to for searching images. Bing has its uses but when the face-off is between Bing Images versus Google Images, I still side with Google.
What are your main uses of Google Image Search? Do you use it to search similar images? Or do you put it to any of the uses I listed in my advanced Google Search for images article quite a while ago? All of them are still relevant by the way.
Then there are some of the more unusual uses of Google Image Search…alternatives that takes it away from the beaten path. This is where we are going to take a stroll now with five more offbeat uses of Google Image Search.
As a Visual Language: The Image Language
You can also call this Write with Images. The Image Language (beta) is an experimental visualization project that is trying to turn images into a “new language”. As it says, it is trying to – create an interactive visual experiment that explores the possibilities of two things: words and images. The experiment has basically been developed by three people – a programmer, an Argentinean Copywriter and a Brazilian Art Director.
The Image Language uses each word you type into the box to retrieve the top Google Image Search result for that word and display it on the page. In simple words, it is translating your word into an image. Yes, it seems kind of trivial but it’s interesting to test out word combinations and see what images they turn up. Check out the screenshot to see what my attempt brought forth.
Crowdsourcing Artificial Intelligence: Visual Dictionary
The Visual Dictionary is one of the more creative uses of Google Image search with visualizations. It is a large image map of all the nouns in the English language arranged by semantic meaning. Literally, by the sound of it, it seems like a large project. According to the explanation given on the site, 7,527,697 images were used, each tile being the average of 140 images. Google Image Search was used as one of the search engines to source the images for the words.
Wondering at its mysterious purpose? Well, the project’s idea is to make it easier for computers to recognize objects within images. Visual Dictionary is a crowdsourced project. You can help by clicking on the tile that corresponds to the word definition. It helps to make the dataset more accurate.
As a Desktop Wallpaper: Montage Maker [No Longer Available]
The Visual Dictionary is just one of the interesting Google Image Search visualizations out there. Montage Maker (Montage-a-Google) is one I would definitely recommend. You can use it with any keyword to create a picture smorgasbord or wallpaper. Check out the one below which I tried out with the word “happiness”.
Explore Cultural Differences: Image Atlas
Image Atlas is another interesting visualization experiment that examines cultural differences and also similarities by displaying the top image search result for a given keyword from 57 countries. The comparisons among the countries can be sorted in alphabetical order or by GDP (Gross Domestic Product). The premise behind the project is that words (i.e. search keywords) have a cultural context. Searching for “prayer” from Spain will give you different results than doing from India or any other country. Image Atlas takes your search term and displays a horizontal row of thumbnail images corresponding to that word from the countries around the world. The image search results also probably vary over time as the world changes.
Image Atlas was the collaboration between the late Aaron Swartz, the internet activist and computer programmer, and Taryn Simon, a photographer. Here’s a NY Times article that talks about their image experiment.
Google Image Search as Art: I’m Google
Dina Kelberman is an artist from Baltimore. She has created a running collage of similar images from Google Image Search on a Tumblr blog. She calls it “a long stream of consciousness”. One photo (or video) moves from one to the next based on similarities in form, composition, color, and theme. You can keep on scrolling down the page as one block of similar images gives way to the next. Most images are on common themes.
Dina Kelberman says she has “obsessed over Google Image searches and has collected images she found beautiful, though they might not be aesthetically so. Individually, maybe not. But when collected together they do have an artistic appeal.
These five different uses of Google Image search demonstrate how many ways a technology can be used beyond the obvious. Maybe, you cannot immediately “make use of them”, but they can inspire you to look at a search tool like Google Image Search and think up a use in your daily life. So, tell us in the comments if you use image search for something specific. Do you know of any more interesting uses of Google Image Search that could be of use to our wider community?
Image Source: Hand reaching images via Shutterstock