Digital photo exchange device

Digital photo exchange device

Postby rodiponer » Thu Jun 11, 2009 5:44 pm

Digital Photo Exchange

Step 1: Find a large steel device.
Step 2: Plug your camera's memory card into the device.
Step 3: A red light illuminates. Wait for the green light.
Step 4: Remove your camera memory card from the device.
Step 5: Find random photographs from other people copied onto your camera, filling about 1/3 of your free memory. A random selection of your photographs are now in the device, waiting to be copied to other people's cameras.

This is like finding a strangers vacation photos on the sidewalk. It is for people to share their experiences, randomly, in an odd, anonymous, disconnected way. Every photo shared was taken by someone who also used the machine, but you know nothing else about them.

Questions:
- Would you use this machine?

- Is one third of free memory a good amount of random photos? This means that if you have a 4 gigabyte memory card, have used 1 gigabyte with pictures you've taken, and have 3 gigabytes free, the device will copy 1 gigabyte of other photos onto your camera. There is a balance between filling up someones camera (who did not bring a laptop to unload the memory card), and getting enough photos to be interesting (since most photos probably are not..). Thoughts?

- The shared photos will be resized, so that they are smaller and more will fit on people's cards. Recent cameras have a ridiculous number of megapixels, appropriate for printing photos that are 20x30 inches. Resizing them will allow several times more photos to be shared, and they will look the same on most computer monitors. Does anyone have thoughts on what an appropriate resolution would be for the shared photos-- 2048 pixels? 1024 pixels? 800?

- The only reason I might not make this machine is a concern about liabillity: someone could share illegal photos. I know ISP's get around this by claiming to be a mere conduit for the photos (so that, for example, Google doesn't get charged for possession if someone emails it with Gmail), which this is, but for a physical device this is probably not settled law. I don't want to be unduly paranoid, but in our system merely being charged with something can cost many several thousands of dollars to defend yourself. I could have the machine regularly purge the photos inside it, so it only shares photos from the last x people and x hours. This is less fun, since it limits the number and diversity of the photos people would get. Does anyone have legal advice or technical ideas to mitigate this risk?
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Postby wedeliver » Thu Jun 11, 2009 6:01 pm

Build it and they will come!
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Postby gyre » Thu Jun 11, 2009 7:36 pm

Any way people could select size of the download?
My cameras won't handle more than 2 g cards.
My phone will take 16 g.
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Postby justfred » Thu Jun 11, 2009 9:52 pm

I imagine you could do this with a Linux script of some kind - Perl, Python, Ruby - or even command-line shell. When a drive is inserted, copy all the image files to a folder; then determine the size or free space on the drive, and copy 1/2 that much (or whatever) in random photos.

Making a big light on the top might be the most difficult part.

For extra credit, you could probably build the whole thing with Arduino. Might take longer to copy files though.
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Postby rodiponer » Fri Jun 12, 2009 1:09 am

Gyre: Good point. I think I'll shrink the photos way down, to 800 or 1024 pixels, so that even 2000 photos would fit in 100 megabytes. Then set 100 megabytes as the maximum it will use. This is a small enough that people should not miss the space in their camera.

Justfred: Yes, that's almost exactly the plan-- a Soekris box running a Python script on Linux. A car battery can easily power one of these for over a month. The lighting will take way more electricity.

So yes, the software is simple. But there are a lot of details I want to somehow make it intimate. Like finding a strangers photo album in a thrift store. So that each set of shared photos seems unique and personal, like you are giving something, the story in your camera, to a few other people, and getting that back from them in return. This isn't complicated software, but I know how a lot of different details add up to more than a five minute shell script. It should organize the shared photos filenames by uploader, then try to share from as many days (in EXIF data) as possible from that uploader, but it should also share closely spaced photos as a set. I want to weight the random sharing so that a few larger uploaders do not dominate the experience. It should filter out duplicate incoming photos, in case someone uses the box more than once. And I want it to only share a photo a limited number of times before it deletes its own copy, so that every use of the device gives a unique sharing experience, and, so that in the end, there is nothing left inside it, no 'authoritative' summary of even it's experience or photos from which a 'best of' could be compiled.
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