Ephemera Archive by Base Color
Just a thought from 14 April 2005 about , , , .


I've been posting photos to Ephemera for over 15 months now (666 photos as of today - creepy!). Any content-based site that runs long enough eventually has to solve the how-do-I-find-stuff problem. Blogs do this with archives by date and category. Others increasingly use search, leaving it to the user to figure out what they want (not always a good idea).

But photo sites have a special problem (and opportunity) here. Because the content is visual, simple text search is not a good solution. And tagging is awesome, but only when you've got a community to help you tag (future idea!).

I had a brainstorm while washing dishes last night and whipped this up: Ephemera Archive by Color. It's a page that reduces each photo down to its average color and then displays them all at once. The result is fascinating. A sea of khaki and grey, punctuated by the occasional bright orange or pink.

As a photographer, it's interesting to me to see what colors I tend to photograph in an incredibly general sense. But as an interface designer, I think this is a novel exploratory interface. Sure, if you're looking for puppies, you should just go to the Pets Category. But it's a mistake to think that web surfers always know what they want. Sometimes they just want to pick a theme and be surprised. That's what this is for. Plus it's a great faraway overview of all Ephemera photos, divined down to their base color, in one glance.

Interesting or just silliness? You tell me.

For the geekly inclined: I'm automatically generating this page. I use Movable Type and MTEbmedImage Plugin to power Ephemera. To make the Archive by Color page, I just created a new index template in MT, and use it to tell MTEmbedImage to make an image thumbnail that's 1px by 1px - this reduces the photo down to its base color. Then, in the html, I just stretch that image to be 20px by 20px so it can be seen.

Fun for the whole family!

This section is called Just a Thought. It's a blog where I post little pieces of what I'm thinking about at the moment. This page is an individual entry called “Ephemera Archive by Base Color” that I wrote on 14 April 2005.

Before this, I wrote a little something called “Get Lost!” on 11 April 2005. After this, I wrote “Come here often?” on 15 April 2005.

Get Lost!
The second issue of Heather's and my labor of love photo maagazine has been published! Issue 2 of JPG Magazine,...
11 April 2005

Come here often?
Jeff Veen makes a great comment about intimidating interfaces and I couldn't agree more. My favorite recent example of this...
15 April 2005

The Fine Print

Working the web since 1995, Derek Powazek is the creator of many award-winning websites, a couple of which still exist. Derek is the cofounder of JPG Magazine and the CCO of 8020 Publishing. Derek lives in San Francisco with his wife, two nutty Chihuahuas, a grumpy cat, and a house full of plants named Fred. More »

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