Monthly Archives: January 2006

Brokeback Mountain & The Gay Issue

The latest Hollywood blockbuster Brokeback Mountain has been released and its on the radars of a lot of people. Yesterday Milorad Ivovic published an excellent article discussing some of the issues raised, its well worth the read.

[Edit: 2005-01-13]
It has happened, apparently two North Queensland cinemas are not going to show Brokeback Mountain.

More interesting is a comment by the local Federal Member, saying and I’m paraphrasing here:

There are a very low number of homosexual people in North Queensland, so it won’t annoy many people that it isn’t showing.

Amazingly, he some how knows what the majority of North Queensland’s sexual orientation is and he assumes that only homosexual people would want to see a movie with homosexual people in it. By that token, surely homosexual people don’t go to the movies very often – since there are very few movies which feature a homosexual character, let alone that its part of the main story plot.

One day, maybe some people will grow a brain.

MySpace & News Corporation Problems

In July, News Corporation announced that it had purchased Intermix and all associated products for US$580 Million. Intermix owned and operated, one of the largest social portal sites on the internet boasting nearly 50 million members.

Everything was going along swimmingly for News Corporation, until they started censoring what their users were writing! It is the expectation that the internet is free and anyone can write just about anything and ultimately no one will care. It seems that News Corporation took offense to their users linking and discussing their competitors. When users would mention a competitor, the posts were being edited and the offending words, images and links deleted.

You would assume that MySpace were feeling threatened by their competitor and sought to weed it out of their site. Unfortunately, this manual intervention stirred the pot a little more than expected and a huge backlash followed. As soon as the backlash gained momentum, MySpace stopped censoring their clients information and restored all of the existing data – in fear of it escalating any further.

I think this would have been a very strong lesson learned for the new owners of MySpace. In an online business, even more so for a business driven by the power of social networking, you can’t suddenly go and change the rules. If you change the rules and your users don’t like it – your competitor is only ever a handful of keystrokes away.


Flickr is probably the greatest online photo management and sharing application to hit the internet. You can spend hours browsing through millions of beautiful images from around the world, which are categorised and tagged for your convenience. Recently, Christian Langreiter released a new experiment named Retrievr. Retrievr allows you to sketch something in your browser and it when then search the Flickr photo database for images which it thinks matches your sketch!

Retrievr is based on research conducted at the University of Washington on a topic called Fast Multiresolution Image Querying. To describe the process simply, you take an image and create a wavelet of the image. Using a wavelet transform, you could generate many different representations of the same base data – a lot like varying the compression level when saving an image. From these wavelets, a signature of the image is formed composed of the key wavelets, while all non-significant items are discarded. Once a wavelet has been generated for each image, they are stored in the database for fast retrieval later. As a user of Retrievr, you simply create a sketch, it computes the wavelet for your sketch, compares it against the wavelets already stored in the database and returns you a set of best matches. At this stage, only a small subset of the images on Flickr have been analysed for use in Retrievr, however Chris says to email him if you’d like to see another group/set of images included into the site.

Ultimately, I think it is a awesome experiment which proves what is possible through utilising Fast Multiresolution Image Querying however at this stage I can’t can (see comments below) see a real world practical use for it.