commonsExplorer is an experimental interactive browser for the Flickr Commons. It provides a "big picture" view of these collections - a rich, single screen interface that reveals structures and patterns and encourages exploration.


download (1.2Mb) for Mac | Windows | Linux

commonsExplorer is a Java executable, so Windows and Linux users will need to have Java installed. The application requires a network connection, and may not work from behind a firewall or proxy.

how does it work?

The application grabs titles and thumbnails for the whole selected collection - hundreds or thousands of images. Words in image titles are visualised in the text cloud: larger words occur in many titles. Hovering over a word highlights images with titles containing that word, and shows which other words occur in those images.

Thumbnails - or cropped "samples" of them - are shown in the tile grid. Hovering over an image in the grid shows its full thumbnail and title; clicking the thumbnail loads a larger image from Flickr. Clicking the larger image loads its page on Flickr.

The text cloud also provides an interface to refine the current image set. Clicking a word in the cloud focuses it, showing only images with titles containing that word. Right-clicking on a word blocks it, showing only images with titles that do not contain that word. Clicking on a blocked or focused word un-blocks or un-focuses it.


Designed and developed by Mitchell Whitelaw and Sam Hinton in the Digital Design and Media Arts research cluster, Faculty of Arts and Design, University of Canberra.

Made with Processing and Flickrj.


Feedback, questions and bug reports are welcome - contact us.