In today's Wall Street Journal is "Back to the Drawing Board" by Aaron Rutkoff, a "Time Waster" piece that gives a good, detailed report on Retrievr, one of my favorite Flickr mashups. The experimental project uses the Flickr API to let you search for images by drawing them. Use a set of standard paintbox-type tools to pick your color and brush size, then draw. Within a few seconds it comes back with thumbnails of images remarkably like whatever half-baked drawing you've done. It's quite enjoyable to use.
The story provides a lot of trivia about this little app:
- It searches through 100,000 of Flickr's most popular images.
- It focuses on regions of colors rather than specific shapes and lines.
- The search algorithm is based on a 1995 research paper entitled Fast Multiresolution Image Querying and the imgSeek application.
- It was created by the 27-year-old Austrian programmer Christian Langreiter for the company System One as part of some product research. Development took 2 months and about $20,000.
Not every day a mashup gets its own profile in the WSJ.