Skip to Content

BGI = Before Google Images

Wading through the mind of the Google Images database.
April 20, 2008

In my recent tour of the RISD Library, I was startled to find a room with cabinets upon cabinets of labeled clusters of clippings from magazines. For any given term, there is a corresponding file of laminated individual pages from publications that span over 30 years. This is a room of visual inspiration that RISD students have been coming to for years in order to see source material connected to specific ideas and keywords.

Naturally, my first thought was, “With Google Image Search, wouldn’t such a resource’s popularity be waning?” The maintainer of the room explained this indeed to be the case–especially on cold or rainy days, when a visual inspiration can be only a few clicks away instead of a long walk to the library away. But the advantages of this physically based approach are quite clear: 1) the quality of images is better, as they’ve been hand-curated, and 2) there is the element of serendipity that comes from the messiness of it all that leads to happenstance encounters of new inspiration.

As I now approach the presidency of RISD in only a few weeks (I start June 2), I continue to be in wonderment of the many wonderful aspects of an art and design school that will certainly benefit the world of technology by providing new surprises like these.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

AGI is just chatter for now concept
AGI is just chatter for now concept

The hype around DeepMind’s new AI model misses what’s actually cool about it

Some worry that the chatter about these tools is doing the whole field a disservice.

Hoan Ton-That, CEO of Clearview AI
Hoan Ton-That, CEO of Clearview AI

The walls are closing in on Clearview AI

The controversial face recognition company was just fined $10 million for scraping UK faces from the web. That might not be the end of it.

Europe's AI Act concept
Europe's AI Act concept

A quick guide to the most important AI law you’ve never heard of

The European Union is planning new legislation aimed at curbing the worst harms associated with artificial intelligence.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.