Friday, November 20, 2009

Pivot Collections

Microsoft’s Live Labs have been doing some more neat things with sea dragon (the software engine behind photosythn). There latest experiment is called Pivot and it tries to address how you might interact with massive amounts of data, and especially pictures. It is out on a limited beta release and you need an invite to try it out (you can find access codes at the end of this post) and it is well worth a look now. My head is already spinning with the possibilities of creating my own pivot collections.

What are Collections

In a technical sense collections are just a large group of images (the must be in deep zoom format for sea dragon) with an XML schema. Ok too much detail. Collections are a grouping of images (or text segments) that are in someway grouped into similar items. All the images come from the web, but the searching and zooming is remarkably fast. There can be several levels of grouping, so hierarchies are easy to represent and they can link onto other websites. This is controllable by the person creating the collection. For now there are only a few example collections and be warned they are very USA-centric but looking at them is the best way to understand the excitement.

Browsing a Collection

The real power of pivot is really in the hands of the viewer. You really need to see this for yourself. For example I lookepivot birdsd at the 2009 IUCN Red List of endangered species, and there are close to 3000 species. So I fist looked at birds then limited that to Australasia , and wow there are a lot of Australian birds on the list. The big shock was when I sorted them by by Order, suddenly i saw the group of birds I was regularly photographing, the seabirds pivot sea birds were disproportionally high in terms of red list species. It is a little hard to describe the flow or you query in a text document with few screen captures but you can zoon in and out with the mouse as well as interact with the collection structure (a list of categories over on the right hand side of the screen). For The record the most endangered Australia species is the orange bellied parrot, no news there but my little friends the hooded plovers are there on the near threatened list.

Access Code

When I requested my invite I got an access code good for 10 downloads and I have already used 1. So all you need to do is be one of the next nine to download pivot and enter this code.
63EA 2482 730D 80C9
If you miss out, don’t stress, just follow the need an invite button on the download page.
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