Instagram developing smarter search for finding relevant photos

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If you’re one of Instagram’s 300 or so million users who wishes for a faster, more efficient way of finding relevant pictures, there’s some good news: the company is working on a search feature to help do just that.

According to Wired, Instagram is exploring a new search feature that will allow users to intelligently find pictures that have meaning to them. Current users already know that the social networking site is almost exclusively image-based. Yes, you can add short descriptions to every picture you post, but the draw to anybody’s stream is the quality and frequency of pictures being posted.

For most users, seeing perhaps 100 or so pictures in a stream per day is the norm, yet the drawback is that many are likely to be irrelevant to a user’s personal tastes and interests. Instagram is on to this, and it wants to address this issue by empowering its user base to swiftly sort through its vast collection of visual data.

Instagram is now more than just a place to view cute things, such as family members’ baby pictures, friends’ vacation albums. and food images. It’s become a go-to site for everything from newsy pictures to celebrity images to anything visual that people find interesting. In short, there’s now a real need to organize all of this data in a way that makes sense.

So how would Instagram install a search feature comparable to the effective search on sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook?

For starters, the company’s looking at automating sight. It wants to teach its computer algorithm to intelligently interpret what it “sees” when analyzing a picture. At the same time, the company wants to include the human element by empowering its users to quickly find impactful, newsworthy pictures, so that they can partake in the emotional connection to a huge news story. Think of getting as close to “experiencing” a seismic event like the recent Nepal earthquake by seeing jarring images that bring you closer to the story than mere headlines ever can.

Time will tell if Instagram will pull this off. In the meantime, it continues to enjoy staggering growth, having recently surpassed Twitter’s user base.


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