A while back I noticed a little link subtly tucked away off the Google home page for a product called Picasa. Being an inquisitive, and easily distracted from work, type pixie I downloaded it and spent a happy few minutes going ‘ooo’ and ‘aaaahhh’ at some of the iPhoto type functionality I now had access to. That and the nice fades between photos which can create some pretty cool animation effects if you flick back and forwards quickly. Cool!
I digress (no change there – Stephen), after a bit of digging it turns out that Google, in their continuing spate of random acquisitions, had aquired this product which allows you to categorise and order your local photos. Bit of a strange buy you might think, although they’ve got soooo much money they’re allowed a random bit of craziness.
Then I got to thinkin’… Why would they want to do that? Then it struck me. A few years back I was a big fan of a book called Futurize your Enterprise. In it, the author David Siegel outlines a wonderful vision of the future (cue swirly fade) where everything is tagged with XML, including your photos. Not only that, but combined with full GPS location tagging, UMT tagging and orientation sensors in the camera you could have an absolute description of the space-time co-ordinates for your photo. Shweet! Not only that, but Mr Siegel also outlined a vision where everyone could upload practically infinite amounts of stuff onto shared servers – where you could tag content as public, family, private or whatever.
OK brainiac, I hear you cry, what’s this got to do with anything? Well, apart from scary progressions like GMail giving you 1 GB of storage free and other stuff like that it appears this vision is moving closer and Google want to be there owning it. They already have an image search but it is, to be frank, a bit crap and relies on people putting sensible titles near an image – something that happens rarely. So by getting you to tag and collate your images on your local machine you can easily see that Google could offer cheap storage online for these same photos, offering high quality backup services, and letting you tag images as public/private/etc. At this point it all starts to make a bit more sense, although the end goal is probably a few years out.
Now much though Google’s going through a bit of a hard time at present I do applaud some of the forward thinking they’re doing. They’re demonstrating a degree of intelligence and planning that you don’t see many places. Yahoo keeps adding services, but Google is wanting to be the next leap forward at all stages having already finessed Yahoo at its own game. Watch this space. Guess that means I probably ought to buy some shares.. maybe.
In the meantime though, I’m just looking forward to the time when I can do a search query on the web asking for all the publically available photos taken at major tourist spots, like the Empire State building, and creating a big animated flowing interactive art piece of all of them (imagine a waterfall of time lapsed images swirling round). See you in the future…