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January 30, 2007

Need Pics for Powerpoint? Check out Flickr -- History, Art, Pathology, Implants, and Much More

There are a lot of sources for images that you could use in your teaching, presentations, and research. You have probably already tried Google Images, which is one of the very finest image search engines. So, if Google Images is so cool, why do I want to talk about Flickr?

In Google Images, you do a search just like for web pages, by typing in keywords that describe what you want. Google finds images that have that word near the image. Sometimes the image is right on target, sometimes it is really strange. In Google Image searches there is also the question of licensing, how to find out who owns the image, is it copyrighted, and can you get permission to use it. Answering those questions can take a lot of work.

In Flickr, you can search, just like in Google, but that isn't the best feature. What makes Flickr so powerful are three main factors.

First, currency. People tend to be loading new images every day of events right around them. This has made Flickr a popular source of images for low end or local news media.

Second, groups. People with similar interests will add their images to a shared collection. Find the collection or group that matches, and you have a much better chance of finding an image that meets your need. This also puts you in touch with people who are creating the type of images you want and find useful, and you can follow that person's new work, if you wish. Flickr will even let you search for pictures just in a group.

For example, the Dentistry Library and Sindecuse Museum are both adding images to a Flickr group for images on the history and art of dentistry. You can go to that group and search for "GV Black" or "Jonathan Taft" or Michigan or bitemark or ... well, you get the idea. If you search in "dentalhistory" for "Michigan", what you find will be more connected with dentistry in Michigan than if you searched "Michigan" in either all of Flickr or Google.

Flickr: History & Art of Dentistry: http://www.flickr.com/groups/dentalhistory/

Third, licensing. In Flickr, the authors are allowed to define the level of access and licensing they wish attached to their images. As soon as you find an image, you can check to see what is expected and what you can or cannot do with the image. Now, this has its good parts and less good parts. Some people choose to block their images from showing to anyone who does not have a Flickr account. Just remember, that if you want to see everything, you might want to consider joining Flickr -- it's free! If you have a Flickr account, you can send messages to someone to ask permission to use one of their images, even if you don't know their e-mail address, so that is another advantage.

Here are some other dental-themed Flickr groups.

Dental Photography: http://flickr.com/groups/12745983@N00/

Street Dentistry: http://flickr.com/groups/streetdentistry/

Dentistry: http://flickr.com/groups/88473280@N00/

The Dentistry Library is planning to have a class on Flickr in the Bootcamp series, so please stay tuned!

Posted by pfa at January 30, 2007 03:02 PM

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