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Getty Catalyst image search May 20, 2008

Posted by Mia in Frontiers.
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Getty’s Catalyst image search site is an impressive advance, allowing users to manipulate concepts in the information space by using drag-and-drop.

The Catalyst search demonstrates a very effective use of tag clouds to add/subtract terms as filters. One of its strengths is that it works by recognition, rather than by articulation. There is an offering of terms at the left, some of which you may ‘recognize’ as useful–rather than having to articulate a priori (i.e., by first dreaming up and them typing them into an “advanced boolean search” box) terms which may not be in the dataset anyway.  

I’m especially inclined to think that the insights behind this search functionality were informed by the fact that images are ‘text-free zones’ so the Getty designers/developers are likely much more accustomed to exercising their right-brain functionality. These are the kinds of search models that need to be explored and ported to left-brain dominant activities, like reading text on the screen. Far too many interfaces of our search interfaces can’t find their way off the flat, two-dimensional reading plane — but Getty has.

Only the initial search is needed to hit the ‘side of the barn’ (see Bates).

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