Tag Galaxy – My First Search


I tried using Tag Galaxy for the first time. It’s a really clever Flash app that runs in your browser. Good to say, it supports Google Chrome.

The idea is you type in a keyword and it searches Flickr for photos with that keyword. So far so simple. The innovation is the way it displays them.

It’s a bit geeky, but it shows the results as a rotating “planet”, nicely animated. Around the planet orbit a few satellites or moons, each labeled with a related keyword.

I tried “Thailand” for my first selection and not surprisingly one of the moons was labeled “Bangkok”. I clicked on the Bangkok moon and it became the planet at the centre and had new moons around it for common keywords associated with Bangkok.

If you pause your mouse over the planet or one of its moons you can see the number of photos Flickr has with that keyword.

At any time you can go back one or more steps to try selecting another moon. You can also start afresh with a new root keyword.

If you click on a planet (the one in the centre) the display changes to a sphere with up to (?) 234 square spaces for photos “stuck” to it. (When you see it you’ll know what I mean.)

Tag Galaxy then downloads thumbnails of the pictures with that set of keywords. They come whirling in from all directions and stick themselves to the target squares on the globe. It’s a cool effect.

You can rotate the globe with your mouse to see all the photos. Clicking once displays a slightly larger thumbnail. Clicking again opens a bigger one with some of the photo’s metadata. You can click a third time to open the photo’s Flickr page (huge mode change!).

At any time before you go to Flickr you can go back and look at other photos.

If you’ve selected a set of more than the maximum number of photos Tag Galaxy will stick to a globe it has a “next page” arrow to get more photos stickiing themselves ot the globe covering up the old ones.

Here’s a mosaic with 9 screenshots of the first search I tried:

Click for a larger image

Click for a larger image

As you see I zeroed in on a single image. That isn’t typical and it isn’t what i wanted.

The problem comes with the set of keywords Tag Galaxy selects to show as moons at each stage. There must be thousands of possible keywords associated with Flickr photos keyworded “Thailand”. Which to choose?

It didn’t seem to be the top ten most common as I would have expected.

I wanted to find pictures of beautiful women in Bangkok but it didn’t let me go there.¬† I ended up with a single Black & White portrait, looking lonely on their smallest globe.

Clearly I need more practice with Tag Galaxy. It’s a great idea and well executed. Even from Bangkok my performance was good. It is complementary to Cooliris – which is a way of displaying images from a photostream on a virtual wall: Cooliris isn’t a search tool.


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