The phrase ‘in the dictionary, next to X, there’s a picture of you’ (where X is a negative term like stupidity) is a bit of an old comic standby – there’s a brilliant Simpsons episode based around it – and it works so well as a joke because it recognises the truth of another old saying: sometimes an image is worth a thousand words.
One of the interesting things Flickr has pioneered has been tagging; allowing users to label their photos. Flickr’s users (myself included) use these to not only describe what an image contains but also to describe what that image means – so if I check out the full list of tags I’ve used over the past couple of years, there are vague adjectives, adverbs and adjectives such as ‘contemplation‘ and ‘creepy‘ along with definite nouns like ‘London’ and ‘staircase‘.
I’m not the only one using tags for more than nouns – and given Flickr has millions of users and images, what this means is that you can use it as a visual dictionary. So, just for a bit of fun, I thought I’d put its powers to the test and look up Flickr’s top images for a few quite hard-to-define terms: FREEDOM, FEAR, PUNK, CONFUSION, IN LOVE, POWER, LONELINESS, HAPPINESS, EXCITEMENT and GOD.
I searched using tags only, and ordered my results by interestingness (i.e., the photos Flickr deems to have been most successful in terms of views and comments). I then thought I’d make this into a bit of a quiz to see how good Flickr is as a dictionary; I took the top photo for each search*, and they’re displayed below; when you roll your cursor over them, you can see what word they define.
* I used the top image, except where the Flickr user had disabled image downloading (as then
I couldn’t put it on this page with the nifty rollover answers), and I
also skipped any image that had the actual words in it.
Anyway, without further ado, let’s see how good Flickr is as a dictionary! Below are the ten terms I searched for, followed by the top image results – the first one on this page, the other nine after the jump. Just mouse over the pics to find out the answer. Let me know how you do!
FREEDOM, FEAR, PUNK, CONFUSION, IN LOVE, POWER, LONELINESS, HAPPINESS, EXCITEMENT, GOD
Oh, and I nabbed the CSS image rollover technique from Alsacreations. Thanks!