Terminology, similarity search, and other animals

Thursday 30th April, 2009

In the walkway-level study room of my old Physics department there’s a desk, where I once found this timeless conversation etched into the surface like a prehistoric wooden version of Twitter:

Protagonist: – “You’re a mook”

Antagonist: – “What’s a mook?”

Protagonist: – “Only a mook would say that”

Aside from any revelations about the emotional maturity of undergrad physicists, I think the lesson here is that it speeds up comminucation if both parties use the same terminology and know what it means.

My area of the CBIR industry has a terminology problem. I’d like to have a vocabulary of terms to describe the apps that are emerging weekly.

Visual Search, Image Search, or Visual Image Search

We’re working on image search, of a sort, although the image isn’t necessarily the object of the search, nor does image search describe only CBIR-enabled apps. We’re searching using visual attributes of images, but “visual search” as a term has already been marked out by companies that visualise text search.

Similarity search

This one seems to hit the consumer-facing nail on the head, for some apps at least. Technologically I’d include audio search and image fingerprinting apps like Shazam and SnapTell in my term, but for consumers there may be no obvious connection so perhaps this is a runner.

Media As Search Term (MAST)

Media As SearchTerm describes for me the group of apps that use a media object such as an image or an audio clip as a search query to generate results, either of similar objects or of instances of  the same object. I think MAST sums up what I’d describe as my software peer group (media similarity and media fingerprinting apps), although it doesn’t seem as snappy as AJAX. Ah well.

Another two handy IPhone apps – Shazam and Stanza

Monday 5th January, 2009

I’ve got a couple more IPhone apps to add to my previous list of apps.


This is the IPhone version of the popular phone service. Just open up the app, tap on “tag music” and it’ll have a crack at identifying whatever music you’re listening to. Seems to work well so far, although I haven’t tested it with anything obscure or in noisy areas.

Conceptually this is pretty close to what we’re working on here at Pixsta, but with audio rather than pictures.


A free E-Book reader.  You can get access to lots of public domain content, as well as select paid content from some publishers. Very handy for reading those stubborn classics on a cramped tube train. Currently reading a Bertrand Russell book that I otherwise would never get round to.