Thursday, June 5, 2008

WWW Shortcuts: Tag Galaxy

When you're on a road trip, every now and then the opportunity will appear to take a shortcut. It's risky, often less well paved and there's no guarantee you won't have to retrace your steps but the adventure can be worth it and you almost always learn something along the way.

The Internet offers all sorts of tantalizing side-roads for writers, including writerly-type tools for inspiration, motivation or cutting down on a writer's perspiration.

Of course, it's easy to get caught in the Web and be stuck there for hours if you're not careful, squandering your precious writing time, but sometimes it's worth the risk, just to see if your Muse is jolted from their off-season hibernation in the back seat of your brain and offers to take the wheel again.

In the WWW Shortcuts feature I'll share some of the potentially useful things I've found on the web and, where possible, give you a preview so you have some idea of what you're in for if you decide to go there.

Today's Shortcut: TagGalaxy

It's funny that as a writer I should be such a visual person and rather than beat myself up about my need for images and pictures as I work, I've been figuring out ways to make it work FOR me
instead.

One of the ways I kick-start the story-movie in my head (see? Another visual writing tool!) or re-focus my approach (yeah - another visual aid for writing) is to collect pictures from books, magazines and of course the web. The idea it to either evoke the mood I'm aiming at for the overall story/ specific scene OR, if I'm basing my location on an existing place, having reference of the landscape, fauna, flora, buildings etc to help me get the details right.

And I've just found a new image search tool that is INTUITIVE, lots of fun and really cool.

It's called 'Tag Galaxy' and uses the tags (metadata) people attach to Flickr public photos to search for topics you type in, then collects the results into a 'visually searchable planet'.

I made some screen shots to show you how it works.

Here's the first screen. This is where you type in your topic:I typed 'Halloween' and Tag Galaxy found not only pictures tagged with this word but related pictures. The 'planets' indicate how many photos it found for each topic when you hold your mouse over them:When you click on the planet of your choice (I chose 'Jack O' Lanterns') it zooms to the planet and thumbnails start flying in to cover it's surface. At the top of the page you see it's showing pictures 1- 50 of 18 520 and there are arrows to navigate to the next or previous set of pictures:To search the image planet you click and drag your mouse to spin the world around in any direction. Holding it on an image gives you a closer look: Clicking on that close-up takes you to a bigger picture with the Flickr details and a link to the page it's on.

And now my head is full of Halloween images and ready to get on with my story. I think it was worth the detour.

Fun app that's useful? That's extra cool!
(Now if I could just figure out how to embed it in my site...)

1 comment:

mudsock said...

pretty cool. can I get one?