Ed's Big Plans

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Archive for the ‘Search’ tag

Wanted: Semiotics Search Tool

with 2 comments

Brief: One of the problems that I’ve encountered is the complete and utter inability to search for symbols online. One can enter keywords, but there doesn’t seem to be a good generative grammar or stick-figure search to specify the symbol that you’ve seen so that you can ask “what is this figure called”, “what does this figure mean?”, “who does it belong to?” — the closest I’ve found has been this reference, fittingly called symbols.com — but it only offers you a symbol whose name you already know. There are also a few tools that will present several chemical compounds that match a query sketch the user inputs — here’s a structure search by PubChem and another one by eMolecules.

So what figures do I want to be able to search for? Here are a few example queries …

  • A circle is drawn with a freehand curve separating the figure roughly into two halves — should turn up the Ying Yang along with a few other circular bipartitioned figures.
  • Two arcs are drawn beside one another concave inward with a staff in the middle — should turn up the symbol for Sikhism and the Caduceus.
  • Two to four stick figure humans are placed inside a box — should turn up the symbol for an elevator or washrooms etc.

If anyone knows of a good sketch-based semiotic search tool, please let me know. Or conversely, if anyone’s interested in having one developed — I’d be interested in helping 😛

Eddie Ma

August 3rd, 2010 at 1:57 pm

Posted in Web Programming

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