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Flickr Patenting "Interestingness" 95

tjcrowder noted that Boing Boing is reporting that Flickr has filed for a patent on a system for determining "interestingness". From the patent application abstract: "Media objects, such as images or soundtracks, may be ranked according to a new class of metrics known as "interestingness." These rankings may be based at least in part on the quantity of user-entered metadata concerning the media object, the number of users who have assigned metadata to the media object, access patterns related to the media object, and/or a lapse of time related to the media object." So basically, nobody else can use tags to label files. Totally original thinking from the folks at flickr. *cough*
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Flickr Patenting "Interestingness"

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  • Yahoooooo. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Rob T Firefly ( 844560 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @09:41AM (#16766383) Homepage Journal
    For those unfamiliar with Flickr, it's owned by Yahoo, who just [slashdot.org] loves [webmasterworld.com] them [searchenginewatch.com] some [typepad.com] patents. [resourceshelf.co.uk]
  • Re:umm... no? (Score:3, Informative)

    by geoffspear ( 692508 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @10:06AM (#16766737) Homepage
    "I have prior art. I saw a picture at a museum once and said 'Gee, that's interesting'."

    In any event, anyone who's used Flickr knows that interestingness has nearly nothing to do with tagging and is almost entirely influenced by how many views, comments, and adding to Favorites (which, I suppose, could be considered "tagging" in some sense, even though it's completely separate from the list of tags) by other users. And not getting added to the interestingness blacklist by posting to certain Groups that the management sees as gaming the system.
  • by artifex2004 ( 766107 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @10:12AM (#16766853) Journal
    Tags are only a part of the interestingness. They want to patent a method for looking at patterns of popularity over time.

    Part of their patent has claims on methodology, and part on a computer program designed to make use of that methodology (to cover the implementation requirement, I'm sure). And as I was reading just the initial page, I could imagine a pseudoequation forming in my head using the variables of time, popularity, content, etc.

    I'm no patent attorney, but this sure sounds like trying to patent an algorithm. Not tags.
    Now, whether they should do this is a good topic for debate -- but let's make sure we at least know what they're doing before debating it.
  • by necro81 ( 917438 ) on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @10:25AM (#16767085) Journal
    Here is, in its uncut and undiluted entirety, the whole article that the summary links to:

    Flickr files a patent for "interestingness"
    Link [uspto.gov] to USPTO filing dated October 26.

    That's it? WTF? Why not just directly link to the patent office and skip the ad-ridden Boing Boing link in the first place?
  • by slim ( 1652 ) <john@hartnup . n et> on Wednesday November 08, 2006 @10:35AM (#16767251) Homepage
    I'm not sure whether it's (or should be) patentable, but Flickr Intestingness is definitely a novel and, er, interesting concept. It's widely misunderstood even by hardcore Flickr-ites.

    As far as I understand, an "Interestingness" score is derived from hits, referrers, tags, pool membership, comments and where comments come from, "favourite" tags and other things. The weighting is constantly being tweaked, and Interestingness changes over time because (for example, and hypothetically) a recent comment is more valuable than an old comment.

    A number of great photographers get upset because they take high quality photographs which get lower Interestingness scores than pictures they perceive as having less merit. But Interesting is not about quality or merit. That's why it's not called "quality" or "merit". It's called "interestingness", meaning "cool stuff you might not have seen before".

    That's why (again, for example and hypothetically) the tags "cat" or "baby" or "flower" are likely to have a negative impact on Interestingness. You can take the greatest baby picture ever, it's still not going to be interesting to most people, because Flickr is flooded with baby pictures.

    In summary - it's cool, it's clever, it's more than just tagging, and it's novel.

    I'd rather it wasn't patented but, hey, that's life.

Executive ability is deciding quickly and getting somebody else to do the work. -- John G. Pollard