Monday, June 18, 2007

Addendum to the last post

In my excitement and pre-caffeinated state, I missed something about Photosynth that should have been spectacularly obvious:

You can only run it on MS Vista or XP SP2. Even just the test drive.

Now, I am conflicted, to say the least. I've read about the somewhat broken nature of Vista, in terms of overenthusiastic security and DRM-type restrictions, but I haven't actually tried it out. I guess I'll just move into wait-and-see mode on Photosynth and its worthiness as a product. My institution is a Windows house, so it's probable that I'll get to play with it sooner rather than later.

It's frustrating, nonetheless. A cool tool, but of limited use to someone unwilling to buy (into) the OS.

Still here, still busy

Yes, I have been remarkably busy over the past few weeks. And, as I mentioned previously, I prefer to write articles worth reading rather than spamming your feed readers with links.

You see the problem here, no?

I'm not sure how often I'll be able to post in the coming weeks, though things seem to be slowing down a bit. For now, I just have to share this with you:

A TED talk with Blaise Aguera y Arcas on Photosynth, an astounding new photo tool.
"Using photos of oft-snapped subjects (like Notre Dame) scraped from around the Web, Photosynth (based on Seadragon technology) creates breathtaking multidimensional spaces with zoom and navigation features that outstrip all expectation. Its architect, Blaise Aguera y Arcas, shows it off in this standing-ovation demo. Curious about that speck in corner? Dive into a freefall and watch as the speck becomes a gargoyle. With an unpleasant grimace. And an ant-sized chip in its lower left molar."

Link via Nicole over at What I Learned Today.

The possibilities for using this in a library setting are obvious and then some. First and foremost, this is the new Microtext platform. Forget the clunky readers or unprintable PDF images. This would have perfectly served a woman who asked for an entire issue of National Geographic (heavy on the photographs and she wanted to read multiple articles); with Photosynth she could view the whole issue from the convenience of her home computer, rather than have to be "happy" with a badly scanned printout.

Second, it makes image collections useful in a whole new way. Make all of your image collections available online and overlay Photosynth on them, and every image you have of the Mona Lisa -- regardless of the physical collection it's in -- is immediately accessible via a large image map surrounding the original image.

Third, far more mundanely, our intimidating Main Libraries can be showcased using a comprehensive virtual tour that reduces patron confusion, because Photosynth will take individual pictures and accurately translate them into a continuous panorama. Using an intuitive, analagous interface.

There are probably many more applications, but I haven't had my coffee yet and I've got to get the day on the move.

I can't quite say I wept at the beauty of this tool, but I came awfully close. Watch the video and ask yourself: how can you use this tool to help patrons of your library?