How does the Flickr “Explore” feature select photos?

Flickr’s Explore feature provides users with a quick look at photos that have been selected by Flickr for presentation to a wider audience. Many photographers would like to see their photos selected, obviously, to obtain a wider audience for their work.

How does Explore select photos? The specific details are not disclosed to avoid “gaming” the selection process. But there are hints in a 2006 U.S. Patent filing by Yahoo:

These rankings may be based at least in part on the quantity of user-entered metadata concerning the media object, the number of users who have assigned metadata to the media object, access patterns related to the media object, and/or a lapse of time related to the media object.

via United States Patent Application: 0060242139.

It appears to do with a “scoring” process that evaluates the “tags” assigned to a photo (e.g. “County Fair”, “Cow”), their relevance to the image, an “access pattern” (presumably an association between the searched for keywords that led to viewing the photo, and the tags assigned by the uploader), the number of click thrus and views of the photo, and the relationship of the viewer to the photographer (e.g. “friend”, stranger). There are likely other factors that go into this process (8 years after the patent was filed).

Panasonic and Olympus Micro Four Thirds Deals

I am a big fan of micro Four Thirds because of their excellent image quality yet small size and weight, and affordable lenses. Both the Panasonic Lumix and Olympus cameras are excellent.

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6KK 16MP Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera with 14-42mm II Lens

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Olympus OMD E-M1 16.8MP Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Camera (Body Only)

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Youtube seeks higher quality content to charge premium ad rates

I will have more to say about Youtube and the business case another time:

The talks underscore Google Inc’s desire to complete YouTube’s transition from a repository for grainy home videos to a site sporting the more polished content crucial to securing higher-priced advertising.

via Exclusive: YouTube weighs funding efforts to boost premium content – sources | Reuters.

Not surprisingly, its all about the ad revenue now. Those that deliver ad

YouTube Censored
YouTube Censored (Photo credit: dannysullivan)

opportunities for Youtube will achieve prominence and the rest  (most everyone else!) may find themselves disappearing in search results and recommended lists.

Youtube previously announced it had modified search results and recommendations based on its “big data” analysis, to drive more minutes of viewing. Consequently, these changes are not secret.

This may have repercussions for those us interested in 3D. 3D has not – yet – delivered significant online audiences for Youtube (except for one person). Youtube has been an early proponent of 3D by offering a reasonable 3D delivery platform but how long will that last?

(I produce short 3D videos as a hobby, not as a profession. But like any hobby producer, I am gratified that people wish to watch what I create. But if they can’t find the videos, then they will not be watching either.)

World’s First 4K 3D Civil War Battle videos

I realized last night that the 4K 3D videos I posted on Youtube are the world’s first ever Civil War era battle re-enactments posted online in 4K 3D format. Kind of cool.

The videos were created using dual Lumix GH-2 cameras, each shooting a 1920×1080/30p video stream.

These were edited and mastered in Sony Vegas Pro and output as full width side by side videos – meaning 3840 pixels wide by 1080 high.

This is then uploaded to Youtube with several “tags” set to tell Youtube how to encode the video properly. When viewed on Youtube, two new viewing resolutions appear: 1440 HD and 2160 4K. Even if you only have a typical 2K monitor, either of the higher resolutions looks much, much cleaner in 3D!

ImportantThis remains experimental! I can only view the videos in correct format using Firefox. Chrome tells me I do not have HTML5 compliant hardware. I could play all but one video on an LG 3D TV using the LG Youtube app. However, when I played the videos on the same TV using a Sony BluRay player’s Youtube app, the videos have the wrong aspect ratio (3840×1080 instead of 1920×1080). A separate video I mastered as 3840×2160 side-by-side 3D did better, but means I have to double the file size (data rate) to get the same image quality.

We can argue about whether or not paired 2K streams are really 4K video. In one sense, they are half vertical resolution 4K. But when 4K is used to stream 3D, we end up with half size images on the left and right anyway. The effect is therefore the same in terms of what gets delivered.

Additionally, Digital IMAX theaters, as of now, are thought of as 4K theaters but they use dual 2K projectors (they will be upgrading the theaters eventually). Digital IMAX provides a more immersive and louder sound experience, but the Digital IMAX screens are just a little bigger than regular movie screens – and not like the 70 to 90 foot tall original IMAX screens.

In other words, dual paired 2K streams used for 4K 3D end up being roughly equivalent to having been shot in 4K on both cameras due to how the 3D left/right pair has to split the 4K image anyway.

For niche video content producers, Youtube is a dying platform

Youtube is a dying platform for niche video content producers.

Youtube: Video 1 received 196 views in 3 weeks.
Flickr: Video 1 received 2,648 views in about 2 weeks.

Youtube: Video 2 received 116 views.
Flickr: Video 2 received 787 views

Youtube: Video 3 posted Jul 6, 22 views.
Flickr: Video 3 posted last night, 29 views already.

Hmmm… Youtube has done to its content search algorithm what Facebook has done to their newsfeed – and both are going to lose their content producers!

The same type of videos I posted a year and longer ago to Youtube would receive hundreds to many thousands of views.  But in 2014, similar videos are lucky to get even 100 views.

We know Youtube has changed their search algorithms, their recommended and “Watch” lists and how they prioritize who gets listed. From the perspective of niche video content producers, it is clear we are better off posting our content elsewhere. Or switch to producing video game mashups and cat videos!

Just guessing but Youtube seems to have become a platform for a group of established Youtube stars, up and coming music acts and “cover” singers, and viral videos.

The other possibility is fundamental changes in viewership – the audience now wants very high quality content (think Devin Graham or Corridor Digital), the audience now wants “channels” that focus on specific topics (there are some hints that this is happening), the audience wants “personalities” (strong hints that this has happened). The type of content people were looking for a year or three ago has changed – mountain bike racing, big events, air shows, etc – has all faded.

But that explanation fails to explain why the same video is watched 8 to 15 times more often on Flickr than on Youtube.