Friday, 24 February 2012

Revisiting Open Asset Architectures

This is from a posting I did in 2009 on the Amaze Innovation Blog ( now closed). With the rise in popularity of Pininterest and Fancy etc, it seems all the more relevant. 

I was reviewing the potential of Apture for use in a client site. Apture allows site owners to embed rich content links the text of pages, when users roll over the links Apture displays a in page overlay with additional information. This can be video, other urls, images etc. It is very powerful and easy to use, no coding required.

But apture is all about pulling additional content into your site in a way which supports users but tries to keep them in your site. It only applies to text. You cannot apply Apture to images.

Mockup of Open Asset Architecture

It made me think that there may be an opportunity to do an image version. Such a tool would allow a site owner to both do what Apture does - supply additional info but to also do something which may be more powerful. The above image is a mock up.

If you have a site which features great images the visual content may be reused by other sites. Web etiquette is that you should reference where the image came form but this does not always happen. It is also easiest to just grab the image off a site and place it in your own site. If we developed a tool which allows users to make it easy for other site owners to pull the original image form the owner's site then we several three things:
  • make the process of image syndication easier
  • potentially improve the owner site's SEO rankings as the embedded images will always link back to the original site.
  • allow users to trace the origins of a given image - one of the unrealised foundations of Ted Nelson's Xanadu project
  • allow site owners to see who is using their assets.
From the viewer's perspective they would recognize an image which has this function by a icon or logo int he corner of the image. Clicking on this would flip the image over. I think using such a primitive and natural interaction as flipping is important as it make this process of discovering more seem easy and intuitive.

This would display the background information, tools for linking to the image and a count of how many time the image has been used. If the image was owned by another site then it would also contain a link to that site. The fliped view would also contain a link and call to action to use the tool - for the mock up I called it PhotoFlip.

I call this approach an Open Asset Architecture. We could also add additional services into the system such as acting as a image broker who would sell high quality prints of images. Although newspapers and magazines already have their own methods for achieving this many other sites do not and we could make the process easy and generate an income stream. 

Such a tool would be of use to many brands. We have spoken to several about the need to take a position where they share their assets rather than hold on to them, they should make them available to all the bloggers and other sites who can act as ambassadors for the brand. This tool would facilitate easy syndication and with the other services, especially SEO optimization and image tracking provide a much more powerful resource.

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