I’m surprised that no one has mentioned this yet.  Google Image Swirl.  Searching for a picture of a check lane display for my own blog (which I shall shamelessly promote here:  buildyourownhell.blogspot.com) I stumbled upon this message: “use Google Image Swirl now”.  Intriguing.  

 

This warranted some investigation.  It would seem that this is an engine under development.  So my search for check lane displays was less than effective.  However, being recently intrigued by that whole Steampunk thing you may have heard of (so I’m a bit slow on the uptake) I thought I’d try that.  

 

Ten minutes later look at all the cool stuff I found!

 

dalek

 

that’s right.  A Steampunk Dalek.  I’m pretty sure that may be one of the most fantastic things I’ve ever seen.  Ever.

 

This little guy

 

figurine

 

is he not the cutest thing you’ve seen all day?

 

And then, my personal favorite, this absolutely fantastic pocket watch:

 

watch watch2 

watch open 

 

 So here’s how it works.  I type in something nice and generic like “steampunk” and then google does a pretty typical image search.   A grid of results pop up, all the different directions you might have wanted to go with a search on steampunk.  There is a picture of Abe Lincoln with a mechanical arm, an illustration of a Victorian era woman with a stylistic pistol, and nifty little gadgets like steam-powered ipods and laptops.  Say you decide on the illustration.  You click on her.  This is where it gets fun.  Instead of opening up the typical google-linked site which hosts the picture, you suddenly find her image, spiderwebbed to a fan of other similar images.  Perhaps one is another link for that same image.  But there is also a keyboard, a couple of punked out girls, and something I’ve yet to identify, but it looks very much like a shoe.  Each of these alternate images has its own halo of connected images.  Every step you take pulls you in a new direction–while still leaving you a trail back to where you began.  It’s like the pictorial equivalent of a well-linked wikipedia article!

 

In an effort to test the limits of this new style of searching, I attempted a search of one of my favorite man-candies (Jason Isaacs) to see what a more specific search would turn up.  Unfortunately, here we ran into the problem of millions of sites hosting the same image.  You click on one, the new bunch it brings up are all the same picture, just from different sites.  This may be useful if you’re simply looking for the best copy of an image–each thumbnail has a little info pop up when you scroll over it giving you those  details.  But if you were simply searching for a selection of images on a theme I would say probably stick to the more generic search terms.

 

The final verdict is one of whole-hearted approval!  Next time you’re looking for the perfect image to punctuate your blog, I suggest Google Image Swirl.  Hopefully it will catch on and Google will expand the selection of images it pulls from.