Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Website spinoffs

CSMonitor reported Flickr is a more than impressive photo-sharing application to begin with, and an extremely popular web destination, Flickr is also proving to be a favored subject for adaptation, and one hopes that its recent acquisition by Yahoo won't do anything to stifle (the creator) Ludicorp's apparently tolerant policies regarding these alternate access points.

Among the earliest of these variations on the Flickr theme was Mappr, which sorts photographs by their geographic location on an interactive map of the US. The Flickr Postcard Browser, on the other hand, takes a minimalist approach to the Flickr experience - reducing the visitor's interface to an essentially blank page with keyword search input.

Enter your term(s), and the Postcard Browser displays the most recent relevant additions to Flickr in a layout not unlike an old-fashioned photo album - at which point you can zoom in on a particular image with a click of the mouse, or navigate among the enlarged images by using your computer's arrow keys. (Enlarged images also display links to their originating Flickr pages, which will open in new windows.)

Employing a search protocol that you've probably never encountered before, the Color Fields Experimental Colr Pickr places a color wheel of sorts in the middle of the browser window and then loads images whose predominant hue matches that of whatever pigment you select on the wheel. Have a preference for images with a warm or cool tone? The Pickr can oblige.

A specific favorite color? Just click on that dot. And if you lean towards bright or subdued exposures, a slider to the right of the wheel allows you to designate overall levels of illumination. As with the Postcard Browser, clicking on a thumbnail will open the original Flickr page in a new window.

Below the color wheel, a series of links also allow the Colr Pickr's results to be confined to specific categories, such as Macro photography, Textures, and Urban Decay - but if you're looking for anything more specific than a 'feel,' there are quicker ways to get where you're going. As the creator states, the Colr Pickr is an experiment, and for the rest of us, an amusement. "It's purpose is simply to provide wonder and delight. Nothing more, nothing less. Isn't that enough?"

Meanwhile, these experiments aren't restricted to Flickr, or even non-commercial websites. Amazetype is a Flash-based, alternative 'front end' for Amazon.com. And while it is a fully functional interface for finding merchandise at the Amazon site, it's a safe bet that many people will visit the application simply to play....

A more practical retooling of the Amazon interface recently won the Technical Achievement award at the 2005 SXSW Festival. Amazon Light 4.0 would appear to live up to its name when the home page loads - the layout is definitely more spartan than that of it's source site, and while preliminary search results will look a bit more Amazonian, they're still less crowded with information than the real McCoy. Once you reach specific item pages though, AL4 begins to demonstrate the benefits of variety....

But more interesting for most visitors will be the features which link directly to Google Print excerpts of books when available (so you can sample the text before buying), and the chance to immediately check for a book's presence in your local -if online- library.

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