Photos, Flickr, RSS and Cataloging

Creative Commons
Culture is not a Crime. Photo (cc) Dawn Endico.

Following the undoc­u­mented Technorati feeds, it seems that Flickr also has some use­ful undoc­u­mented feeds. If you want to pull out the latest pho­tos tagged archae­ology from Flickr it’s fairly simple, you can just go to the archae­ology page and sub­scribe from there. However play­ing with the URL reveals that to pull the latest pho­tos licenced under a Creative Commons licence you only need add the l attrib­ute. So to get a tag type in:
This can be used to pro­duce a Creative Commons Archaeology photo feed. To get pho­tos for com­mer­cial use you simply change the l=cc to l=comm. This is how Unseen Treasures has sud­denly star­ted gain­ing pho­tos along with blog post titles.

Potentially this is very use­ful at it provides an easy way to list recent CC pho­tos in a eas­ily manip­u­lated man­ner. I’ve played around with Pipes to pro­duce this reformat­ted feed with lar­ger cop­ies of the pho­tos. This in turn can be fed into a copy of word­press auto­mat­ic­ally, pro­du­cing this site show­ing the latest pho­tos. At the moment it’s not that much use, but in the future it may be. The next iter­a­tion of WordPress is sched­uled to have tag­ging. If this is the case, and it’s sim­ilar to the UTW plu­gin then it could sud­denly become much more useful.

The draw­back with search­ing in Flickr is you have to have a very good idea of what you’re look­ing for AND for the photo sub­mit­ter also to have a good idea — and speak the same lan­guage. I was recently look­ing for images of women on black fig­ure pot­tery and for images of an aulêtris. The Chiron group should be a good source of pho­tos, but one prob­lem is that many fo the speak­ers have tagged the images in their own lan­guages. Not only should I have been look­ing for a woman, but also a mujer, femme and donna. I think insist­ing that Flickr tags all be in English would be a stu­pid idea, but nor can I add extra tags myself. A WordPress blog pick­ing CC licenced pho­tos should allow read­ers to tag the entries in the WordPress data­base, if not on Flickr. This would make the images blog an addi­tional assist­ant to search­ing the Flickr database.

At the moment I’m using a slightly mod­i­fied ver­sion of the FeedWordPress plu­gin. If or when WordPress has tag sup­port it shouldn’t be impossible to modify it fur­ther for it to store Flickr tags as tags in the WordPress data­base and allow read­ers to add more to make it more use­ful. The ques­tion is where to pull the pho­tos from? I could leave it poin­ted at the cre­at­ive com­mons licenced feeds. An altern­at­ive would be set up a group rather like Chiron for creative-commons licenced archae­ology pho­tos from around the globe.

I’ll be leav­ing images​.clioau​dio​.com run­ning till October to see how the sys­tem works. It should update every couple of hours, if there are new pho­tos for it to see. In the longer term I may take it down depend­ing on whether or not people think it’s use­ful. Comments are off on the images site, because if you want to com­ment on a photo you can click on it and leave a com­ment where the pho­to­grapher will see it. I’ll have to modify the tem­plate to explain that.

Anyway opin­ions on whether or not the sys­tem would be use­ful, or if there’s a bet­ter bit of soft­ware that could do the job are wel­come. I did look at Gallery 2, but I don’t think that can import from Flickr.


When he's not tired, fixing his car or caught in train delays, Alun Salt works part-time for the Annals of Botany weblog. His PhD was in ancient science at the University of Leicester, but he doesn't know Richard III.

2 Responses

  1. AJ Cann says:

    Nice work Alun!

  2. Kris Hirst says:

    This is fab­ulously help­ful, Alun, I’m going to add it to AF today.

    Although you can’t add a tag to a Flickr photo, you can add the right inform­a­tion to a mis-identified (or under-identified) photo by adding a com­ment to it. Adding a com­ment to a photo that says “this is a Bronze Age wid­get from the 7th dyn­asty” means you (or some­body else) can find it again using the power­ful search engine, even if the Flickrite doesn’t read his/her com­ments; and if s/he does, they may tag it themselves.

    It seems to me that at one point you could add a tag, but I may be get­ting senile.