This fun giant-size image for Choosing Cereal made the rounds of Twitter a couple of months ago, and I thought then that it would be a good demo of Seadragon, the interesting infinite-zooming viewer that was Microsoft’s first iPhone app. I’ve dragged my feet until now, but with the attention that Seadragon has gotten in recent articles, here it is …

The original cereal image site that was linked on Twitter is here. I’ve uploaded this at the Seadragon site, which makes it into a deep-zoomable image. It works fine on a desktop, but it’s especially cool on an iPhone/iTouch — Try it HERE. (The Seadragon iPhone app isn’t needed for this but it’s worth looking at because it has several good demos — Download it here). The image below shows only the top of the Choosing Cereal file — The Seadragon zoomable version has the whole thing.

Eric Rumsey is at: eric-rumsey AttSign uiowa dott edu and on Twitter @ericrumsey

Looking at Google Newspapers has got me thinking that the same sort of zooming-panning interface that’s used in that, and in Google Maps, could also be used for viewing books. An example of this is shown in the screenshots from videos on Seadragon linked below.

Seadragon is a zooming-panning technology, owned by Microsoft, and used as a component in other tools, such as PhotoZoom, Silverlight, Photosynth, and various Microsoft mapping applications. When it was acquired by Microsoft in 2007 it got attention as a powerful component of other Microsoft applications, but I haven’t seen it featured as a potential interface design tool for ebooks. This is a relatively small part of the videos below, but the screenshots give a feel for it. These are from two different videos, both showing how the system can be used to zoom in on pages from a book.

The sequence above, which is made up of 800 images from a map collection at the Library of Congress, shows how easy it is to zoom in to find pages that have text and pictures together. This video (2:13) is made by the company from which Microsoft bought Seadragon.

The second sequence is from a video (7:42, the first 2:50 on Seadragon) of a talk by Blaise Aguera, the creator of Seadragon. As indicated, it shows zooming in on a large text source.

Both of these videos emphasize the obvious usefulness of Seadragon technology for mapping applications. But they also show that it has potential usefulness for viewing online e-books — So it’s too bad Microsoft dropped out of the Internet Archive digitization project in May, 2008!