Google betas Image Search engine!|
(Thursday, June 28, 2001 - 17:39 EDT)
Well-known search engine makes it easier to find images online...
Google, the popular web search engine which launched in September 1998, is now running a beta version of its upcoming Image Search service, our friends at the Digital Photography Review report. The Image Search beta site allows users to search for images related to a particular subject of interest, and works by cataloguing information on the web page in which the image is linked, as well as any caption information.
Thumbnails of the images archived by Google's service are stored on Google's own servers, which some people may find problematic (we confirmed this by finding one of our own images in the archive and temporarily removing it - the image still showed on Google's search). If this concerns you, the site does provide a method for removing your images, and preventing new ones being archived.
Google's new service is very similar to one that has been offered for some time by rival Altavista, although it does lack some of the features such as the ability to reject certain types of images (for example, excluding black and white images or banners/buttons from a search). For our money though, both Google and Altavista's image search engines pale by comparison to Bulldozer Software Inc.'s Diggit!, which goes beyond a simple text search. Diggit! allows the user to find images by comparison, searching for other images that have similar characteristics. It even allows the user to enter a URL for an image, upload an image from your PC or even draw a sketch that you want to base the search on. For example, drawing a rough sketch of a pine tree brought us a list of images, amongst which were several Christmas trees. Searches can then be refined by clicking on the resulting images, to find yet more images to which they're similar. Impressive stuff!
One point which parents should be aware of is that search engines like these can bring up some images of a pretty dubious nature. Google does provide a filtering mechanism on its searches, however it can be disabled at the click of a mouse, allowing your children to see things you might prefer they didn't. Altavista's mechanism is a little more robust, allowing a password to be set to stop the filter preference being changed - however it is a simple matter to remove the cookie that handles this, so a technically minded child could probably get around this equally easily.
We didn't see a method to stop Diggit! showing adult images, but we also didn't see any images of this nature in our tests of the service, so it is possible that images are approved manually. Regardless, no filtering method is perfect, and parents should really be monitoring their children's internet usage...