Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A New Image Site - Ookaboo

Recently I was contacted  by a Paul Houle about some broken links on the site Dig-mar.com which I maintain. I guess I might as well announce here that that site is no longer being maintained and will be closed completely this summer. I am focusing my energies on this blog and the Imageminders.net site of the ICCoop.. However, I am grateful to Paul for his reminder and would like to pass on the resource which he was attempting to post on that site. Ookaboo

His group  Ontology2, has created the Ookaboo website, which contains digital images that they claim  are either in the public domain and or under Creative Commons licensing terms. It appears to be a collection of harvested images from the web, in particular Wikimedia, where people place images that they wish to share with the world, so the free access is probably correct. 
The interesting part to me, and I think to many of you,  is how they are indexing the images , which is by means of the semantic web. 
Here is their description of what that means.
Images on Ookaboo are indexed by terms from the semantic web, the web of linked data. Although you're free to find images through the human interface, automated systems can quickly find and use images through the semantic API.
Ookaboo has two goals: (i) to dramatically improve the state of the art in image search for both humans and machines, and (ii) to construct a knowledge base about the world that people live in that can be used to help information systems better understand us.
Semantic Web, Linked Data
In the semantic web, we replace the imprecise words that we use everyday with precise terms defined by URLs. This is linked data because it creates a universal shared vocabulary.
For an example, in conventional image search, a person might use the word "jaguar" to search for
    •    the animal
    •    the automobile brand
    •    the Jacksonville Jaguars (NFL team)
    •    the game console from Atari
    •    ... and nearly 30 other things that are listed in Wikipedia.
Note in the cases above, there are pages in Wikipedia about each of the topics above: it's reasonable, therefore, that we could use these URLs as a shared vocabulary for referring to these things. However, we get some benefits when we use URLs that are linked to machine-readable pages, such as http://dbpedia.org/resource/Jaguar, or 
Pages on Ookaboo are marked up with RDFa, a standard that lets semantic web tools extract machine readable information from the same pages that people view.
Named entities
Ookaboo is oriented around named entities, particularly 'concrete' things such as places, people and creative works. With current technology, it's more practical to create a taxonomy of things like "Manhattan", "Isaac Asimov" and "The Catcher In the Rye" than it is to tackle topics like "eating", "digestion" and "love". We believe that a comprehensive exploration of named entities will open pathways to an understanding of other terms, and hope to extend Ookaboo's capabilities as technology advances.
The above information is from their About us page, which I highly recommend you check out.

Oh and yes their images are pretty good too, especially for those interested in buildings. and other "concrete" things.