You may have seen the demos pages for Microsoft’s Photosynth project, but here’s an impressive video of a live demo from the latest TED conference: Blaise Aguera y Arcas on Photosynth. Photosynth is a tool for managing and aggregating photos and information about photos across whole populations of people. I like how the presenter emphasizes the fact that the true limiting factor for information display is the number of pixels on your screen, not the number of pictures you’re surveying on that screen. There’s still plenty of room to improve the systems we have now. The other thing that occurred to me is that David Weinberger is right to observe that there’s no longer any difference between data and metadata. Your beloved photo is valuable data to you, but a minor metadata reference point for me.
TED, incidentally, stands for Technology Education and Design. I’m amazed at the number of places where you can get free access to interesting videos and podcasts (see IT Conversations and SALT to name just two examples), but these TED videos stand out for their remarkably high production values. I don’t begrudge BMW their little ad in there, because they must be writing some big checks to support this.