Embeddable images from external sources – a few tests

With today’s announcement from Getty of an embeddable viewer, I thought I’d test a few related services and see how they work at both a technical and practical level. This page is just to demonstrate them, and I’ll write up results and opinions after I’ve had a chance to test them here.

Getty Images – Embed Viewer

Getty have announced a new embed code. It uses an iframe and comes with a standard size and format and a ‘robust’ set of terms and conditions. Further details and instructions at www.gettyimages.co.uk/Creative/Frontdoor/embed

Getty Images – WordPress plugin

With all the hype of the Embeddable Viewer launch, it seems the official Getty Images WordPress plugin has been rather overlooked (just over 400 downloads in 2 months is low for a mainstream WordPress plugin). It’s easy to find images and use them, but what’s with teh watermark, and the very first line of the conditions says “Grant of License. Getty Images grants to you, for a period of thirty (30) days, a non-exclusive, non-sublicensable, non-transferable and non-assignable right to use the image and/or film preview file you have selected and any derivatives or copies (collectively, the “Licensed Material”), on your personal computer and, in the case of film, in any test, sample, comp or rough cut evaluation materials. The Licensed Material may only be used in materials for personal, noncommercial use and test or sample use, including comps and layouts.” So can I even use this one here? I’m confused!

EDIT: After writing this and trying to publish the post I then got the message “WARNING: You may not publish posts with Getty Images comps. Download the image first in order to include it into your post.” which kind of explains this. So it’s really just a tool for publishers to find content and create drafts with a view to purchasing a license. That explains it I guess. But I wonder if they have missed a trick – why not add an option to the plugin which allows users to add the simple embed code into a WordPress post?


Flickr provides embed code (using an iframe like Getty) or an html snippet (all subject to the owner’s privacy settings, but in the case of Flickr Commons both of these are available throughout). The player gives title and attribution, the ability to favourite (requires Flickr login), and also the navigation to other images, presumably adjacent images from the same user. Oddly the html code option has title and alt text for the link and image respectively, but does not visibly display the image title or owner.

Flickr embed:

Flickr html:

Dr William Bland, ca. 1845 / photographed by George Goodman


Pinterest is a slightly different case as it’s not a primary source for images, but I thought it was still interesting. They use an approach more like Facebook Like and Twitter buttons, displaying the Pin using javascript.
EDIT: I’m finding that the Pinterest code has a habit of corrupting when editing in WordPress, so it doesn’t look like it’s very WP friendly!


A month or two back I put together a small hack at culturepics.org using Flickr and Europeana images for people to create and download or link to at the specific size they needed. Providing easy-to-grab html snippets was a key feature.

Miss Sarah Hodges of Salem
Miss Sarah Hodges of Salem
Source: George Eastman House on Flickr Commons


Thanks to David Haskiya from Europeana (see commment below) I’ve been pointed to this example from Europeana exhibitions of an experimental embed code.

Creative Commons License

Any more?

Any more suggestions of good (and bad) examples are welcome, and if you leave them in the comments I’ll add them in here.

Sentiment Analysis for Cultural Collection objects – aka how to identify the good stuff

Forgive me if this is an old idea, but I wanted to throw it out there and see if it has any mileage.

Sentiment Analysis is a technique widely used in marketing, and especially social media, to get a measure of the popularity of a brand or product. My question is whether the same techniques could be used to find the very best stuff in cultural collections, based on what people are sharing and talking about online.

The problem is this: I regularly use online collections, whether via a web interface or increasingly through APIs, but almost always end up with a wide range of results that I have to scour through to extract what I would call the decent stuff. Yes, many collections provide tools where I can drill down by facets like date or keyword, or maybe if there is a digitised version available, but what about the less tangible measures around quality and interest – in other words the ‘wow factor’?

Flickr is the one tool I know where this is actually available – if you do a search or use many of the API methods you can sort by what they call ‘interestingness’, a mystical measure based on an unknown formula that involves the number of Likes, Comments, Views, Tags and no doubt other factors. They even tried to patent the concept of interestingness and have no doubt, like Google’s rankings, continuously tweaked the algorithm over time.

So, whether it’s a small museum collection, or millions of records in aggregators like Europeana, DPLA or Trove, has anyone tried to do this for cultural collections and if not, how could it be done?

I’ve used the term sentiment analysis in the title of this post but I think it’s actually rather simpler than that, so here are a few examples of quantitative metrics I feel could provide the basis for this seemingly qualitative measure.

Web analytics – most collections with have Google Analytics or something similar measuring page views. Can we assume that the most visited objects are likely to be the best ones?

Referrals – taking one particular element of analytics, if people are being directed to specific objects from external sources (or even internal ones) surely this means that those objects have something of interest about them?

Social media – in a similar vein, if someone posts a link to an object, for example on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram or any other social channel, even if that doesn’t result in any referrals it’s another sign that someone, for whatever reason, has identified it as being noteworthy. And thinking back to the actual practise of sentiment analysis, if the original post or any replies/comments use emotional, positive words then those would have to score even more highly.

So if we can extract those metrics and combine them in clever ways, won’t we be able to identify all the great stuff?

Without going into detail, here are some interesting links to explore:

Sorting records on oldmapsonline.org by date and scale – a quick greasemonkey script


oldmapsonline.org, with listings sorted by map scale

I was prompted by a tweet from Mia Ridge to have another look at the oldmapsonline.org site. Anything that has maps and history and a slick interface is going to be something I like! But I was struck by the fact that I couldn’t sort the map results that appear in the right hand panel by date or by the scale of the map. Sometimes if you’re researching a location you just want detailed maps, or to look at the oldest ones first (they do have a very nice date range filter, but no sort options).

So I’ve thrown together a very quick Greasemonkey script to help me, and I thought I’d share it. All it does is add two ‘sort’ links above the results panel. Click on either one and you’ll sort the records displayed in ascending order.

How to install

Greasemonkey runs in either Firefox (with the Greasemonkey extension installed) or Chrome. In Chrome it’s easiest to install the Tampermonkey extension to avoid problems with loading external scripts (which you can read about here).

Once that’s done, just click on this link - http://www.catchingtherain.com/scripts/oldmapsonline.user.js - to install it and then each time you load http://www.oldmapsonline.org it should automatically add the sort buttons. Just one caveat – the site has continuous loading of map items, meaning  that as you scroll to the bottom it will download and display more items. The tool will only work with records that have been listed, so scroll down first if there are lots of maps for the area and date range you’re looking at. That said, if you sort and then retrieve more items, just click the sort button again.

Time to get this blog active again

The whole point about this site, and especially this blog, was to be a playground, a digital laboratory full of mysterious experiments. Well, I’ve still been playing, I just haven’t been very good at writing down what I’ve been up to. But starting today I’m going to try to redress that, and also go back over the last couple of years and document some of the more notable things I’ve been fiddling with.

Here goes …

New Powerhouse Museum WordPress plugin launched

Seb Chan and the team at Powerhouse Museum in Sydney certainly likes to make sure they stay one step ahead of everyone else in the museums sector, and they’ve proved it once again with the launch of a custom WordPress plugin that interfaces with their collections information through the API (which, of course, they have had up and running for ages).

Here’s a little test.

  • Malietoa supporters training for battle, Upolu, Samoa, 1899
    85/1284-1478 Photographic negative, Malietoa supporters training for battle, gelatin / glass, photographer unknown, published by Kerry and Co., Upolu, Samoa, 1899
  • Photograph of parts for grain stripper
    88/289-213 Photographic glass plate negative, parts for Clyde horsedrawn grain stripper, Clyde Engineering Pty Ltd, Australia, 1900-1940
  • Photograph of training ship "Sobraon"
    P1835 Photographic print, albumen, black & white, mounted on card, 'Training Ship "Sobraon." ', NSW Government Printer, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1894
  • Photograph of Avro cadet trainer A6-17
    88/289-1186 Photographic glass plate negative, Avro Cadet trainer aircraft A6-23 on float, Clyde Engineering Pty Ltd, Australia, 20th January 1941.
  • Concept drawings for Sydney suburban trains
    2006/52/9 Drawings (3), concept renderings for the 4th generation 'Millennium' train and Outer Suburban carriage, paper, made by TDI (Transport Design International) and Design Resource Australia, Crows Nest, New South Wales, Australia, 1997-2001
  • Malietoa supporters trained by Lieutenant Gaunt, Apia, Samoa, 1899
    85/1284-1481 Photographic negative, Malietoa supporters trained by Lieutenant Gaunt marching through the streets of Apia, gelatin / glass, photographer unknown, published by Kerry and Co., Apia, Upolu, Samoa, March 1899
  • Tin plate toy coal tender from train set
    85/2587-25 Toy coal tender, from train set, tin plate, made by Meccano, England, c. 1937
  • Photograph of Timken Steel and Tube Company grain chart
    88/289-318 Photographic glass plate negative, copy from original book of the Timken Steel and Tube Company grain size classification chart, Clyde Engineering Pty Ltd, Australia, 1900-1950
  • Glass plate negative of Lavender Bay with steam train
    2008/165/1-137 Glass plate negative (1 of 193), Lavender Bay with steam train, glass, photographer possibly Arthur Phillips, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, c. 1910
  • Anatomical model of a human brain
    H1704 Anatomical model, human brain, papier-mache / plaster / paint, maker unknown, 1850-1894
  • Glass plate negative of Como Hotel, Como with Illawarra train line
    2008/165/1-126 Glass plate negative (1 of 193), Como Hotel, Como with Illawarra railway line, glass, photographer possibly Arthur Phillips, Australia, c. 1900
  • Toy train 'Spirit of Progress'
    85/2589-77 Toy steam locomotive, 'Gold Chief' Victorian Railways' 'Spirit of Progress', 4-6-2, electrically-operated, 0-gauge, metal, made by Maurlyn Manufacturing Pty Ltd, Redfern, NSW, 1951-1957
  • Photograph of first Avro trainer A6-15
    88/289-146 Photographic glass plate negative, first Avro Cadet trainer aircraft A6-15, Clyde Engineering Pty Ltd, Australia, 1940
  • Training manual for 'Breathalyzer' blood alcohol testing apparatus/
    2006/8/3 Training manual for blood alcohol testing apparatus, 'Breathalyzer Training Manual I', paper, prepared by Sergeant 2nd Class W E Burns, Breath Analysis Section, NSW Police Department, published by Authority of the The New South Wales Commissioner
  • 'Moraine' sofa by Zaha Hadid
    2005/180/1 Sofa and cover, 'Moraine', polyurethane foam/ leather/ canvas, designed by Zaha Hadid, England, 2000, made by Sawaya & Moroni, Italy, 2004
  • Bullock team clearing drains
    85/1284-982 Photographic negative, bullock team clearing drains with a piece of equipment called a 'delver', glass / gelatin emulsion, photographed by George Bell (attributed), published by Kerry and Co, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1890-1900
  • Glass plate negative of the Como Hotel, Como with Illawarra train line
    2008/165/1-46 Glass plate negative (1 of 193), view of Como Hotel, Como with Illawarra train line in background, glass, photographer possibly Arthur Phillips, Australia, 1895-1905
  • Two control units from Fleetwork Trainer
    98/113/1 Control units (2), Fleetwork Trainer components, pupil's course and speed unit & instructor's control panel, metal / alloy / electronic components, commissioned by the Communications School at HMAS Cerberus, Victoria, Australia, made by Research
  • Watercolour drawing of the Metropolitan, Sewerage and Drainage Board Building
    95/258/1 Watercolour drawing, 'Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board Building', paper / ink, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1930-1940
  • Toy Tri-ang Express floor train
    85/2566-1 Toy Tri-ang Express floor train, metal, Tri-ang, England 1950