(No.1) Making Information Richer
As an information technology engineer, I often reflect on the importance of content. Traditionally, the most important content has been text, which is circulated mostly by printing and publishing activities. As Figure 1 shows, these activities stopped growing around 1990. When we take into account that information grows at an average of 40% annually, this abrupt change should indicate that information is moving from the printed page to some other medium. My guess is that the shift has been predominately to images.
The most precious information, of course, is art. And Chinese calligraphy is a valuable form of art for many Japanese. The most famous calligrapher is Yi Zhi Wang, who is often called The Mahatma of calligraphy (Figure 2). He lived in China in the 4th century and is still worshiped. With calligraphy, images (font style) are very important. Some valuable contents have survived as long as 1600 years.
Our Image Appliance Lab has been tasked with achieving better use of images. The Image Retrieval Engine on the Yahoo Auction site in Japan is one example of our achievements so far.