We’ve been keeping a careful eye on our Sister Blog to see what they’re up to. Something that’s particularly caught our eye is "5 Questions ", asking the same 5 questions to the Flickrverse, with the last question being who we should ask next. And so, we hope, it goes on and on.
This is our version, asking questions of those that develop, hack and fiddle with Flickr in new and interesting ways. Of course we couldn’t start with anyone else but KrazyDad (aka Jim Bumgardner).
Jim founded the Flickr Hacks group back in the day, a great place to hang out and ask question if you want to learn how to bend Flickr to your will. In 2006 he also coauthored the Flickr Hacks book for O’Reilly and happily for us he hasn’t stopped tinkering with Flickr yet.
So, without any further ado, 5 Questions for Jim Bumgardner:
1. What are you currently building that integrates with Flickr, or a past favorite that you think is cool, neat, popular and worth telling folks about? Or both.
Jim: It seems like I’m always building something that integrates Flickr. A recent favorite is this interactive mosaic that shows the most interesting photos of the week.
The photos are arranged to form a spiral, a form that appears quite frequently in my work.
I have a "cron job" which runs on one of my computers at home, which updates this mosaic every week, so the photos in it are always fresh. Incidentally, I prefer to call this process a "cron joy." Oh, nerd humor…
2. What are the best tricks or tips you’ve learned working with the Flickr API?
Jim: I think every Flickr hackr should have access to a powerful high level
graphics library. My library of choice is ImageMagick combined with the Perl programming language (it also works nicely with Ruby), but the GD library, which works with various languages, and PIL, for Python, are also good.
I not only use ImageMagick for building mosaics and graphs, but also for "under the hood" kinds of things, like measuring the average colors of photos for the Colr Pickr (see below).
3. As a Flickr developer what would you like to see Flickr do more of and why?
Jim: One of the very first Flickr hacks I made was the Colr Pickr
…which allows photos to be selected by color. Since that appeared, I’ve worked on, and seen some fancier variations on the concept, that allow larger quantities of Flickr photos to be selected using multiple colors. But all these systems, require that thousands or even millions of thumbnails be downloaded and analyzed for color. This is because Flickr does not supply "average color" information in its APIs, and cannot provide the color search functionality that this data would enable.
I would like to see Flickr provide, via it’s APIs, the three most common colors in each photo (using cluster analysis), and provide a way to search for photos which match one, two, or three colors. These parameters, similar to geocode searches, would need to be combined with some other search parameters, such as tags, to narrow
the field down.
A feature like this would be a godsend to designers. I’ve got sample code for the color analysis, if anyone’s interested… :)
4. What excites you about Flick and hacking? What do you think you’ll build next or would like someone else to build so you don’t have to?
Jim: One thing that excites me is the ability to access large quantities of photos that contain valuable metadata, such as the time the photo was taken, or the geocoded location. I used the ‘date taken’ data to construct this very cool graph of sunsets:
While most digital cameras store the time within photos, these days, not enough of them automatically store the location. We have to rely on photographers adding the geocoded information manually, and sadly, not enough of them are geeky enough to do it. I’m looking forward to the day, a few years from now, when most of the new photos on Flickr will also contain geocoded information, as this will enable me to make apps which enable a kind of instant photo-journalism of heavily photographed events, such as rallies and parades. We’re seeing the beginnings of these kind of apps now, but we’re barely scratching the surface.
5. Besides your own, what Flickr projects and hacks do you use on a regular basis? Who should we interview next?
Jim: GustavoG has made some amazing graphs which exploit and illustrate the Flickr social network.
Dan: Thank you, Jim. Next up for our thrilling installment of 5 Questions, GustavoG .