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.
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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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