Swirling Around with Flickr Tag Browser

The Flickr Related Tag Browser is a cool way to surf and cross surf related tags within the vast flickr photo-empire.

Flickr Related Tag Browser lets you surf Flickr’s ‘tag space’. Flickr tags are keywords used to classify images. Each tag has a list of ‘related’ tags, based on clustered usage analysis.

Thanks to the Flickr team for their great API. Flickr is almost certainly the best online photo management and sharing application in the world.

I could not agree more with that last sentence. Is there a lesson out there as to what can happen when you let folks loose on data via an open API? That more people will enter a site through these more or less freely franchised outlets? It seems like the antithesis to rigid corporate portals.

But enough of that let’s walk through how it works (Geez, I wish I was set up for screencasting!)…

The main interface (Flash, sorry Stephen if the form fails for you again ;-) is a simple text entry field. Kind of quirky and unique by typing in a form box tilted at an angle:


So I start a search on photos tag with “Phoenix”… What comes up is a set of icons representing all flickr photos tagged with “Phoenix”– we have some Suns games, some hikes, some highways, some outdoors stuff:


I can page through the icon sets (all dynamically loading), but when you select one, you get a larger preview on the right, and a link to the full flickr page for that photo. So here I can see a photo of Camelback Mountain, in Phoenix:


But the fun comes in when you pull the mouse back away from the square area that contains the icons… this is where the magic pulls in an orbit of related tags:


So I could flickr surf top tags like “Cactus”, “Scottsdale”, “Arizona”, etc. But since I like Camelback Mountain (I was married on top in 1993), I select the “Camelback” tag:


So I have gone to another fractal level where my focus now is all flickr photos tagged with “Camelback”. There are lots of trail, hiking photos in the collection, and maybe we’ll zoom to one that shows one of the steep rocky climbs that make it fun:


This is a rather addictive way to navigate flickr space, all in one web instance. The most annoying thing is you cannot get back to the original search form to enter a new request. But that is minor and likely easily programmed in by the developer.

This is one of the things the differentiates the web form dominated systems we are used to (online shopping carts, any course management system), where every transaction or activity involves a browser client to server request, a response with more choices, back and forth loading html. This is a smoother experience enabled by flash, to feel stateless as the server transactions go on behind the scene.

Can flickr ever stop generating/spawning more coolness? I hope not! And they do not have to do the cool work beyond providing access to the data and the metadata.

If this kind of stuff has any value, please support me monthly on Patreon or a one time PayPal kibble toss
Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.