QR Codes and Metadata

QR Codes are still big in Japan. The data is old (2005) but interesting:

  • 90% under 20 were using them.
  • 84% were using them from magazines – women using them for mail order
  • 74% for access URLs
  • 27% (high I thought) for ecommerce purchase from magazines

What is big in Japan can sometimes translate to being big in the rest of the world – I remember competitive reality TV shows being huge years before Survivor hit the US. But other things will never translate. But I digress…

Google is also getting into the picture with QVC with a test campaign with Blue Nile – with promising initial results – “The code-enhanced ads ended up driving 6.5 times more revenue than the ads without.

and you can’t even escape McDonalds – supersize that QR code?

The British are not immune either, Harrods in England is getting into the mobile barcode space. – “This is an attempt to connect with a more tech-savvy audience, and frankly we’re quite pleased if the whole campaign remains a bit ‘cult’.

Well, those in the ‘cult‘ most likely are early adopters, tech savvy, and have disposable income. Not surprising to see the advertising markets get interested.

QR codes are fundamentally ways in which metadata can act as a link, or portal to additional information. A link that can bridge print to mobile, and help bring a more engaging experience directly to the user on demand from a print source.

From a business owner’s perspective (the advertiser of the product), it allows better tracking of the ROI of print materials – how are they being used and consumed, and most excitingly when and where (and possibly by whom). It opens up a whole new exciting world of analytics that can be used to tune a print ad campaign that was previously hard to do – demographics meets geographics for ad placement with real time feedback. No wonder Google is interest.

For now it’s fun creating your own and thinking about how this can knit together the print and online experience. Who knew metadata could give you that warm fuzzy feeling?

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Metadata Games

Good to see other metadata blogs out there. I noticed from Beth’s page a number of interesting links.

The one about Fastr caught my interest as a way to tag Flickr images.

I see that Scott has added Groups support to Fastr so one could further narrow the context of the game to be within the “food” group or “travel” group.

It would be interesting if the guess were to be reapplied back to the
image owners as “social tags”. The original owner could then choose to
accept the tags or not.

This “giving back” would be a more of an open source approach to collecting metadata rather than Google’s approach with Image Labeler. Which seems to be focused on improving the quality of Google’s search results –
Welcome to Google Image Labeler, a feature of Google Search that allows you to label images and help improve the quality of Google’s image search results.

Metadata games could actually be a cool idea for the home. I have an Apple TV and a Wii – I have often wanted to pick up my Wii and “tag” or rate my slideshow images as they floated across the screen. I could easily imagine a game where the family competed against each other to identify who is in the images – or does what Fastr is doing but with other people pictures that they have shared.

Love, Verse

I came across this via Boing Boing with the original via Rock, Paper, Shotgun.

Love (as in For The Love Of Game Development), is a mini MMO being created by one developer/artist – Eskil Steenberg. The visuals alone are gorgeous but his approach to building it and the technology he is using got me excited.


From Rock, Paper, Shotgun –

Since Steenberg is a one man show, he’s relying on clever maths to build the world for him and then clever gamers to come in and help him figure out where to take it, and what to do with it…..Players will be able to do things like deform elements of terrain, allowing them to build tunnel networks or walls to defend their property. Items will also be intended for the good of all as Steenberg creates them and drops them into the world. You won’t be picking up rifles in your adventures, but more likely the plans for the rifle-building machine, that can then be utilised by everyone in your village.

It’s open source virtual reality that engages game designers, artists, players.

Some of the technology behind it is intriguing – like Verse – from the Love site –

Verse is a network standard that a allows graphics applications to share data in real-time. It means that two or more independent applications can share the same data. If you make a change in one you immediately see the change in the other. It is a free and open source system that can be integrated in to any graphics application to allow them to share data. You can collaborate with other users over the Internet, use it for content pipe-lining, games, VR, simulation and much much more.

Wouldn’t it be cool to hook in Adobe tools into Verse so that designers can create items for Love, or even directly in Love?

Now, imagine if objects in the VR can tagged to offer richer description and interaction – perhaps he might be interested in XMP for VR entities?

The next big thing…social ready media

ZDNet has a posting that states the next big thing is user contributed metadata. I agree. There is a trend to defining your own digital identity which can be used to match you to new friends, targeted ads, new websites, etc.

The key will be how and who will manage that identity. Currently there are large ecosystems that have quickly sprung up because of their ability to lower the barrier for connectivity between people – Friendster, My Space, Facebook. But your identity is still a prisoner of that particular ecosystem (hence the value it can provide to advertisers).

There appears to be efforts underway to provide a more open approach to identity and authetication. OAuth looks promising as a way to protect certain data and give other people access. Combine that with OpenID and you have the basics for a digital identity that can roam and interact on the web…if you let it.

So that brings me to the concept of “social ready media”. Media is meant to be consumed, played, mashed up, and redistributed in the world. It’s value is in it’s ability to draw people together – a viral video, family photos, etc. Metadata within the media can play a powerful roll in enabling social connections. I have a tagline corrupted from Marshall McLuhan I use when describing XMP – “The message is in the medium”.

If the media carried the social connections, I could easily build my social graph as simply as sharing pictures and videos and not be beholden to a particular wall garden of connections.

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Metadata Resources

The ASMP website has a great article on various aspects of using metadata that is of interest to photographers. Includes tips on preserving the original filename into the metadata using the rename option in Adobe Bridge and using Peter Krogh’s extension to add the original file name to the Title field in the XMP and IPTC IIM.

In my last post I was turned on to the Bridge mash up with Google maps from Aldo Hoeben – very cool!

The Bridge Geotagger script allows you to inspect, set and/or edit GPS data embedded in photos using a Google Maps interface. It uses the embedded Opera HTML engine in Bridge to display Google Maps, and the XMP framework to manipulate metadata.

Definitely makes it easier to tag location into your images.

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Permanent Metadata

Yes that would be cool! I am getting asked that question more and more lately. Each time it reminds my of the line “this will go down on your permanent record” – a la the Violent Femmes song. John and I have discussed this topic for his blog post but I have a few more thoughts on the subject.

There are a few techniques out there that can embed or weave information into the image file itself. In all cases it will affect the image quality to some extent – you are after all changing the pixels. In one approach a piece of information like copyright info is coded into the pixels in a specific pattern so that if the image is cropped or slightly modified, pieces of the pattern can be reassembled to reveal the original copyright info. Making this more robust depends on increasing the patterning intensity which of course will degrade your image more since you are modifying it.

Another popular technique is to visually stamp the copyright info into the image directly – this is an obvious deterrent but Photoshop is a powerful tool to amend these changes by a determined thief.

XMP metadata is basically a chunk of XML jammed into various file formats – a simple idea that can be very powerful in capturing, storing and updating information directly in the assets itself – like a little database within each file. The more tools that support XMP, the more that they can exchange information and work well together at improving the workflow. What makes XMP powerful is that is can be changed and updated. But there are potential improvements that can be helpful.

Currently metadata within Adobe products can be updated by templates that append or replace information. Append will add new info if the target field is empty or can store multiple values – appending the keywords field will preserve the old keywords and add the new ones. Replace will simply replace what it there with the new info.

I’d like to see a more refined approach to this to prevent inadvertently overwriting existing fields. One idea would be to establish a lock attribute to fields and ensure that our applications are aware of this attribute – so if a field is locked and a replace action occurs, the application will warn the user. The user then needs to unlock the fields in the UI to replace the data. Making this more explicit will help reduce accidental overwrites.

Another idea that has been talked about by the IPTC is the ability to have user specific metadata. The enables a situation where each editor of metadata can apply their changes without destroying the previous user’s information. This raises a number of interesting challenges – authentication is required, you will need to log into Photoshop or at least we will need to pull the info from your computer (what if you use multiple computers with different login names?), then there are layers of access control that will be needed – do you have the permission to see my metadata? How do I manage these permissions?

Even keeping a history log of edits can become problematic if the assets is reused multiple times – for competing clients, how embarrassing would that be if they were to look in the metadata history and see the same picture has been used by their competitor?

It may be the case that metadata in the file evolves to become a “cache of convenience” with the authoritative information living on a web service. The web service model is designed to provide the authentication and permissions needed. The link between the two provided by unique IDs. In fact, unique IDs are already created by Adobe applications and stored in the XMP – that is what the XMP Media Management properties are all about. The ID model is also actively being pursued by organizations such as PLUS for referencing licensing information and Ad-ID for advertising info.

But even these XMP based IDs can be wiped out. As with anything digital, it can be hacked, broken apart and reassembled. XMP metadata is not meant to be DRM. If you want that type of protection PDF has some technology that can be useful. Even then, once the asset is free, screenshots can be taken etc.

I am interested in hearing what you think about these approaches. What else can we do to improve this situation?

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Metadata at Max

Excitement, technology, design, cool, AIR, flash, flex – what do these tags represent? Adobe Max in Chicago.

I am in rainy Chicago about present an update and overview on XMP across within the Creative Suite. My session is on making media intelligent with metadata. I’ll cover the complete workflow from camera capture, layout to PDF archive. I will also cover some of the evolving engagements we are having with our partners and how you can extend Adobe applications to fit within your workflow.

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Inside view of the Copyright office

John Harrington has posted a fascinating view of what happens when submitting photographs to the copyright office in the US.

He mentions that the processes is improving since the images where taken. I gotta think that web based submission, a bit of PDF technology for security and some searchable XMP metadata would go a long way to streamline the process.

None the less, a interesting snapshot into the process – feels like watching how typesetters built newspapers in the old days.

via David Riecks’ controlled vocabulary forum

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Continue reading…

Updated Bridge SDK now with XMP metadata JavaScript Documentation

The Bridge SDK has just been updated to include additional information on how to use JavaScript to access XMP metadata services in Bridge. From the documentation:

XMPScript, the XMP ExtendScript API, offers JavaScript access to the Adobe XMP Core and XMP Files libraries. This chapter provides reference information for the JavaScript objects related to XMP, with their properties and methods.

This exciting for developers because it provides in depth info on how to extend Bridge’s metadata capabilities to build custom solutions. The recently posted BridgeExportToJPEG is an example of a script that take advantage of this.

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Extending Bridge CS3 with Flash

Yes, it’s true. You can harness the power of Flash to extend Bridge CS3 to build your own features. I just uploaded an example of this to the Bridge section on the Adobe Exchange website.

Once loaded into the Bridge startup scripts folder, the BridgeExportToJPEG extension will demonstrate a Flash UI panel in Bridge that is functional in driving Bridge to create JPEGs and manipulate XMP metadata. All the thumbnails that are created in Bridge are JPEG based, so it is possible to export these thumbnails as JPEGs – for example if you want to create a JPEG catalog or quickly send JPEGs of your RAW files. I’ve also included the FLA file for tweaking. It’s all available under a BSD license.

It would be great to see more Flash and Javascript developers build on the Bridge platform to develop their own features. Bridge also includes an HTML browser and HTTP and FTP services – so linking up to a web service can be accomplished. How about displaying GPS data in my photo as a Google/Yahoo map in Bridge?

Get started with the Bridge and XMP SDKs, if you are thinking of connecting to an Asset Management system, check out the Version Cue SDK.

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