Waste of Time

6 01 2006

So I first saw this link on BoingBoingRetrievr searches Flickr photos by similar image, as opposed to tags. All you do is sketch a random picture in the little box, click retrieve, and you are instantly supplied with 20 matches. A really cool idea, right? I thought so, and immediately followed the link there to begin playing with it. After the first 2 minutes, it all went downhill.

For those 2 minutes I was entertained; I like a good challenge. But the last 45 minutes I have been sitting here, growing angrier and angrier. Here’s why: You can sketch the most basic thing (for example, this yellow star). Of the 20 results my sketch returned, not a single one looked even remotely like a star. Granted, my star-sketching skills are shady when I try to go all fancy and draw one the “artistic” way- without the crossing lines in the middle. But I’m fairly confident that if you showed my star to a preschooler and asked him to identify the shape, he would not answer “It’s a green heart.” A green heart? Seriously? Other image results: a black and white cat, a slug, some guy’s head, and a bathtub.

I was able to search the tags for the word ‘star’ and find at least 4 near perfect matches on the second results page. No time wasted trying to draw what I was looking for. Clearly, whomever posted the original link on BoingBoing did what I grew desperate enough to do after close to an hour of pathetic results: sketch your picture based on one of the results you’ve previously received. This is cheating, I realize, but the fact that it FINALLY gave me a result similar to what I’d sketched allowed me to begin breathing again, unclench my teeth, and to pretend that it had worked, at least.

I have concluded that Retrievr is on crack. A great idea, but what an awful execution. All it did was frustrate me. If anyone else can sketch something and manage to receive a result that resembles your sketch (without cheating), please let me know. Because you can’t. You won’t. It is impossible.



2 responses

7 01 2006

I made a purple flower and found pictures very close. This was after trying numerous pictures with no success.

9 01 2006

Retrievr left you wanting more, didn’t it?
I’m glad you found something, though, and didn’t get a red cat for your purple flower.

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