Google is at the center of so many things right now, and with good reason. They really seem to think about an ideal product or an ideal service, and then they create it. I feel as though other companies start with where they were, and then try to fit their current structure into their goals. It doesn’t always fit.
Here is the latest example for Google. They have a huge image database, and would like to make it more searchable by tagging each image. This is a huge task. Computers may not be up to the job, and it would be unreasonable to pay people to tag millions of photos. So they just launched Google Image Labeler.
It is a GAME where you are paired with an anonymous partner. Each of you are shown an image, and have a set time limit to try to tag it. If you both agree on a tag, you get points.
For Google, they simply need to crunch the data, calculating how many similar tags a photo received. The random pairing of you and a partner means you can’t play the sytem and try to tag things incorrectly. Brilliant.
Update: Search Engine Watch has further details, explaining that the game was licensed from Luis von Ahn. It also does a comparison with Flickr.