Stipple and its potential usefulness for tracking OER

A short investigation of Stipple, a platform which facilitates the tagging of products and people in images

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Robert Farrow
16 August 2012

Stipple is a a platform which facilitates the tagging of products and people in images.  Both services use embedded javascript to track images as they are copied and distributed across the internet.  The main technical difference between Stipple and TrackOER is to do with where the relevant javascript is located.  Stiple is enabled by website publishers at the site level.  If the code is installed then images can be tagged and these tags persist and are transferred over to other users.

Stipple conveys richer data than TrackOER as people are encouraged to add 'information and stories' to images.  It does this through linking to 3rd party APIs:  YouTube, Twitter, Soundcloud, Google Maps, etc. but you can also enter content directly or just add links.  TrackOER simply registers when a resource has been re-used in some way (though we can get a lot of data from this alone).

Here's what Wikipedia has to say about their business model: " Stipple Pipeline allows brands to tag their products in photos uploaded to Stipple. Through Stipple Network, the photos are open to use by website publishers, who are paid by companies with products in the photos. Consumers can then click on the products tagged and buy them. As of May 2011, Stipple had contracts with nine photo agencies, 50 brands, and 1,300 publishers"

Stipple could be seen as doing the inverse of TrackOER.  Both are tracking the spread of resources across the web, but whereas TrackOER aims at improving OER, Stipple use the same analytics for targeted marketing and delivering advertising through images.  Image tags are used like Adsense keywords to target advertising.

Stipple offers two kinds of analysis:  how far (geographically) content has reached, and; the level of audience engagement (clickthrough, 'like', re-tweet).

They claim "Stipple makes sure your images are attributed to you and link back to you wherever they go. When you claim an image, your information and tags travel the web with it".  It seems to me that using Stipple to track OER across the web in the same way as the TrackOER script is perfectly feasible.  It might even be easy.  You could get richer analytics as well as access to promotional tools.  The links through to social media are also quite well done.  However, you might not be able to get the analytics that you want.

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