One of today’s nuggets from the Twitterverse is a reverse image search engine called TinEye which allows you to paste in an image file or URL and see where an image has been used. So my experience went as follows:
I created an account in TinyEye easily, confirmed it and got to work. My immediate first reference was my profile picture which is stored on my desktop here at work as I know that image is floating around the internet. Strike one. No such luck, it cannot find my image so any dreams I have of being famous or appearing on a magazine cover in some faraway land only to marry a rich prince and live happily ever after are shot.
So after my initial failure, I thought I’d better read that yellow highlighted bit on the screen which says “Wondering why TinEye couldn’t find your image” while thinking “awesome, maybe rich prince accounts are blocked”… but no. What it actually tells me something far more useful. TinEye is in beta and their search library is currently quite small. Read in my mind: you are not that important, get over yourself and use this site properly.
So I came up with the idea to find an image online of Barack Obama, hes important right? I mean, my own profile picture wasn’t making the grade. Setting my narcissism aside, I figured his image was more likely to have more reuses than my profile pic. I experienced instant success. There were pages of results for this image, showing me the image over and over with information about the size of the image and which website it was used on.
The good things
- I found it extremely easy to use, all I had to do was enter a URL or file
- The interface is clean and intuitive in design. I was never at a loss about where to look, infact it felt a bit like Google
- You can subscribe to their what’s new page which tells you when changes are made to the site. I really like this feature because it means you don’t have to go searching for informtion. Very effective communication.
- its FAQ section does a very good job of explaining how it works in plain English. Even I could understand what they were talking about!
- They aren’t taking any copyright or ownership when you run a search on your image
- The scans will apparently pick up slight alterations to images you’ve submitted for search, so close but not identical matches will show. E.g. someone’s made your pciture other colours, or adjusted the size.
The not so good things
- TinEye says it’s beta, and the size of its image library probably reflects this
- You cannot see dates on the search results as TinEye does not return that information
- If you’ve pirated people’s copyrighted images into the public domain, this search engine may not be good news for you (can’t say I’m that sympathetic either, tsk, tsk)
Some possible uses for it
- If you want to check where else an image has been used before using it yourself this is a good way of doing it. It wouldn’t be too good to use an extremely political image accidentally in your blog or whereever
- Because of the way it works, if someome is really silly and links to your image you can catch them, if they’ve captured it using something like SnagIt and renamed it, TinEye isn’t going to find them.
- If you’re a narcissist like me you can go through your whole Flickr account and see if anyone’s used your images (you may also choose to get really really excited when they do and get an over inflated ego).
- I’m sure there are others too…
So from my perspective, “the not so good things” are far fewer that “the good things” , so I’m suggesting that I like it. If I didn’t, this post would have been alot shorter.