April 4, 2008

Wiki Architecture

In Moreville and Rosenfeld's book Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, the chapter on "Practicing Information Architecture" fits well with what we are doing with Flickr. Their Venn diagram shows "...three circles (which) illustrate the interdependent nature of users, content, and context within a complex, adaptive information (relationship)" (p. 24). The diagram can help us see there should be no limitations when researching a topic on the web.

In regards to Context, Flickr can help put a company into perspective. Flickr can help display the work this company has done. For instance, I tried to pull up any Flickr pictures for Flat Iron Construction on previous works they did. Because I had to follow Creative Commons rules I could find only a few shoddy pictures of one bridge, finding good pictures would have been very helpful in our wiki. Pictures are worth a thousand words (sorry for the cliché) and would give our readers a sense of who this corporation is by seeing exactly what works they have created.

In regards to Content, if I am correct, this would apply to data only and certain documents may not be a good idea to keep on Flickr. However, a use may arise in the near virtual future.

Lastly, Users are the backbone of any company. I would think that a company would want to get its "face" out there, wherever "there" may be. Works they have done, the people they have helped, the people who work for them.

These circles show, in our changing world, we can still relate to each other on a personal and professional level. We have been learning how to do this all semester with Twitter,, and our wiki. Adding Flickr to that equation only enhances a virtual relationship for anyone working in our "neo-techno shift" (I just hadda use it).

Fabulous flickr

Sara McD.

Prime example? Epitome? Protypical? Exemplary? Quintessential. That’s the word. And there it is, right back where we started on page 38 of Wikinomics: flickr is the quintessential Web 2.0 application. It embodies every principle and practice of the second generation of the Web: “culture of generosity,? creativity and self-expression, self-organization, emergence, the wisdom of crowds, folksonomy, open-sourcing, and prosumerism. Wikis, being another exemplary Web 2.0 application, are a natural complement to flickr. For both philosophical and practical reasons, it’s only logical that we would draw from the public square on flickr to add a visual dimension to our wiki.

A culture of generosity
With 6,450 photos, flickr probably has the largest single archive of photos on the 35W Bridge. How did that happen? What motivates people to publish their photos online for all the world to see and potentially use and repurpose? The authors of Wikinomics credit the “culture of generosity? that pervades Web 2.0 technology (1). 2.0 technology engages users with opportunities to publish and share their ideas, express themselves creatively, participate in creating something, and collaborate. The co-founder of flickr believes that users are motivated by “ … systems of value other than money that are very important to people: connecting with other people, creating an online identity, expressing oneself … garnering others’ attention … The culture of generosity is the very backbone of the Internet (2).? As the author of Connect! states however, it’s not all altruism (3). Pure entertainment and self-interest contribute to flickr’s popularity as well.

Regardless of motivation, flickr members who shared their photos of the 35W Bridge, collectively created a unique visual record of the disaster. Their action exemplifies another defining characteristic of Web 2.0 technology and economics identified in Wikinomics: emergence. The concept of “emergence? refers to self-organizing, collective action that unwittingly results in creating something new and beyond the scope or capacity of a single node in a network (4).

The wisdom of crowds
By virtue of sharing their photos on flickr, members convert personal value into collective value. They add new and greater value through tagging. Tagging leverages the “wisdom of crowds? or the collective wisdom of individuals and enriches users’ Internet experience with unique information and knowledge. The benefit of crowd wisdom is that it aids discovery, organizing content, and searching on the Internet (5).

Folksonomy & the public square
The Library of Congress recognized the value in the wisdom of crowds and launched an innovative project with flickr to harness that wisdom for the public good. Through a new site on flickr called “the Commons,? the Library has made 2 large collections of photos available to the public to tag: The director of the project cites the folksonomic approach as the best means for the library to accomplish its mission with regard to these collections: ensure better access to the library’s collections and have the best possible information about those collections for the benefit of researchers and posterity (6). Tapping the knowledge of thousands of flickr members can surface missing information about the photos that would otherwise be very difficult or impossible to find. “If such information is collected via Flickr members, it can potentially enhance the quality of the bibliographic records for the images (7).?

User generated content & open-sourcing
The metadata being created by flickr members for the vintage photo collection is a type of user generated content—content that is typically created outside conventional professional organizations and processes usually without profit motivation. Media organizations began to embrace user generated content well before the Library of Congress. The BBC for example, institutionalized the use audience contributions after the London subway bombings, accepting some 5000 photos of the event. Most media organizations have followed suit realizing that sourcing content, especially photos, from the public widens access to expertise and diverse perspectives well beyond that of a single journalist. They routinely turn to citizen journalists for information, knowledge and content. Consequently, some of the photos posted on flickr were used in major mainstream media reports:

Prosumerism and citizen journalism
Web 2.0 applications like flickr have increased the prevalence and affordability of the means of production and publication on the Internet. The new technology enables individuals to actively participate in the creation of many products and services, transforming them from consumers to “prosumers? who co-innovate and co-produce (8). The resulting culture of collaboration has given rise to the practice of citizen journalism: anyone with a digital recording device like a camera and an Internet connection can be a journalist. That’s what the collection of bridge photos on flickr represents. Citizen journalism and the culture of collaboration has upset the mainstream media’s previous monopoly on generating news and information. For the sake of its own survival, mainstream media is hurrying to find ways to work with its news prosumers.

Flickr is a case study in Web 2.0 technology. The phenomena of flickr is not exempt from problems however. Flickr challenges the interpretation of copyright law and has been sued for infringement of individual privacy. (See the section on “Dispute over copyright issues? in the Wikipedia entry for “flickr.?) As we incorporate photos from flickr into our wiki, we should be sensitive to issues like privacy that even copyright “free? photos may test.

1. Tapscott and Williams. Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything. Portfolio Hardcover, 2006. pg. 205
2. Ibid., pg. 206.
3. Zelenka and Sohn. Connect!: Web Worker Daily’s Guide to a New Way of Working. Wiley, 2008. pg. 224.
4. Wikinomics, pg. 44.
5. Ibid., pg. 208.
6. Raymond, Matt. “Library of Congress blog.? 16 January 2008. Retrieved on 4 April 2008.
7. Ibid.
8. Wikinomics, pg. 125.

"A picture is worth a thousand words."

I love photos! Do you remember those shirts that say, "______ is/are my life. (fill in the blank)" Well, one of the many words that I would fill the blank in with is, "Photos are my life." If my home caught on fire, my photos would be on the top of the list of items that I would want to save. I think part of the reason why I love photos is because I really think that "A picture is worth a thousand words." Whoever came up with the saying is a genius. With Flickr, it is a site to post photos, thus posting thousands and thousands of words without actually using any letters/text (although you could add captions to the photos). Photos to me add something that words cannot.

When we use Flickr though, we have to keep in mind the class materials/readings/activities of the past. During the week where we had to define a successful wiki site, a number of people had mentioned consistency as being important. Yes consistency and moreover relevancy . . . We wouldn't want to add photos that have nothing to do with the 35W bridge collapse (i.e. hot celebrities at parties or random objects of interests like the million dollar bra). One of our earlier readings a few weeks ago included, "Time is money, and for most projects, the cost of your team's time will be the largest percentage of your expenses." (Brown et al, 2007, p. 107) With that being said, we have to use our time and pick our photos wisely...therefore no photos of million dollar bras please! ;-)

Going from photos on Flickr to the wiki site, Information Architecture is key. We learned about Information Architecture in weeks 4 and 5. Information Architecture "involves art and science of shaping information products and experiences to support usability and findability...the structural design of shared information environments." (Morville & Rosenfeld, 2006, p. 4) "Structuring, organizing, and labeling...It's what information architects do best...Findability is a critical success factor for overall usability." (Morville & Rosenfeld, 2006, p. 5) This is all important in regards to photos added to our wiki site because we wouldn't want to add a photo upside down or mislabel a photo or place a photo at the very bottom of the web page hundreds of lines below the last set of text so that the site visitor would have to scroll all the way to the bottom. It may be good finger-on-mouse exercise for the site visitor but very bad information architecture! This week's will help us with coming up with good information architecture because, "IN THIS CHAPTER [it will] show you techniques to optimize the look and efficiency of your Web page graphics."

It's good that we're adding photos to our wiki site. As I mentioned earlier, photos add something that words cannot. Imagine if our wiki site was just text. I think that would be oh-so-boring. With photos, we are not only adding graphics, we are adding thousands of unspoken words. With that, I leave you with this picture I got at

Free Picture of Two Soldiers Raising Up The American Flag. Click Here to Get Free Images at Clipart

What does this photo mean to you? I could tell you in a thousand words what this photo means to me, but in short -- To me, this photo means America, and how I love this country and the great people here in this country . . . like you guys and anyone else who makes the most out of life.

Puzzled People With Pictures

In the third week when we began to use Del.ic.ious, I felt very confused because I did not really understand how to navigate around it, because I did not know what the site was fully capable of. I understood the concept of a bookmark but I did not know how it was such a broad social benefit to many individuals and organizations. Open thinking like this type allows for people to understand that they don’t have to do it all by themselves anymore. Zelenka mentions, “You can now be more a composer than creator from scratch. You can find inspiration, ideas, words, photos on the web—and then use them to create something of personal or social value [giving credit as appropriate]? (Connect pg. 32).

How do you give credit, and how do you know when it is appropriate? Before reading Bound By Law last week, I only had a tiny idea of what copyright meant, and the only reason I knew anything was because of Krista’s guidance through Flickr, when I was instructed to tag photos related to the 35w bridge collapse. I had recently just learned what attribution was. I was dumbstruck when I found out in Bound By Law that when you create something you own it seventy years after your death. What a horrible web of misguiding rules, but it seems to have gotten easier for me to recognize what the different types of copyrights mean and how to utilize them from the “fair use? policy. I guess the only problems that I have run into in Flickr are searching ideas. Not every person thinks of a picture the same way or describes it in the same manner so when you type in what you think is the description for a certain idea, you are only getting a limited amount of pictures based on your descriptive words.

Resisting for no reason

I have to admit I have resisted using Flickr only because with all of the other Web 2.0 applications I use I had to draw the line somewhere. Perhaps it is good that this class if forcing me to explore it because it seems to have some very useful applications outside of sharing photos with families and friends. Upon further exploration of flickr these last few days I can’t help but notice how it ties into our generally theme of the class. The first reading I thought of was the chapter Platforms for Participation in Wikinomics. The opening to the chapter talks about the early creation of Google maps. It seems that many of these Web 2.0 programs were created the same way. It seems that client participation platforms are the basis of Web 2.0. Flickr arose from the development of an online gaming platform which was later scraped and Flickr became the primary focus of the group (Wikionmics). For this reason I see Flickr as an emerging platform that is largely shaped by user participation. It is obvious that Flickr also falls nicely into place with our discussion from last week regarding copyrighted material. It is obvious that while much of the material on Flickr is intended for personal use by others in the network, it is also clear that other material needs to be protected from "poachers" who may feel that they have the right to use other's material as their own. The Creative Commons video really applies to this discussion and although I'm not sure where I stand on the topic I do feel that some material is meant to be shared while others is meant to be protected. Do think that material shared on site such as Flickr should be fair game or do you think that the standard copyright laws should apply to that material as well? I know legally this question has already been answered but I still feel it is an interesting discussion especially in light of our class.

My personal opinion of Flickr has changed since I actually began using it. I think that once you bite the bullet and add it to your collections of Web 2.0 programs it is very useful and interesting. I love how it brings such a large community of people together. The more I explore and utilize it the more I will grow to appreciate it.

Flickr Vs Chaos

While flickr contains a vast library of pictures and the ease with which one can search for pictures with creative commons licenses makes it a useful tool for anyone looking for pictures. However, one of the trends I noticed while looking through the selection of pictures on the 35W Bridge collapse is that there are numerous duplicates and pictures that are similar to each other in composition. There is also the limiting factor that no two people think the same and thus view the picture and the tagging of those pictures in different ways making searching difficult as there is no overriding scheme for the labeling of those pictures. We saw this in our tagging, where, even when our main topic was the same we still were left with a large cloud of tags, including various spellings and phrasing of the same ideas. This makes searching difficult however it also allows for a greater accuracy in how those pictures are categorized instead of relying on a set number of predetermined tags. There is a difficulty is balancing utility and versatility, too much one way and the tool can become too chaotic and too far the other way makes it the labeling too rigid. While there are many photos of the bridge in the flickr database the range of subjects under the tag is very limited with most of the photos being duplicates of the same image with slight differences in point of view while not containing any new information.

April 3, 2008

Flickr Likes and Dislikes

Okay, another thing just made me say “wow? I just watched the Flickr geotagging demo and it makes me wish I had a digital camera for all of my trips when I was in my 20s…Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, Wyoming, Texas, Washington (both state and DC), and other points west and south. I could have created an amazing record of my “traveling before I grow up? life. But instead, I have many photo albums with my own handwritten tags.

And now I’ve just spent the last 2 hours looking for photos in Flickr and my back hurts…bad posture tonight. But luckily, I’m finding some photos for the chronology and the political repercussions, including one with construction workers protesting for transportation funding and another that says, “Governor, we have a problem.? Happy I found those two.

Here’s what I like and dislike about Flickr so far:

• Some amazing shots of the bridge (and many other things non-bridge related). I wonder if some of these people were nearby with cameras before the surrounding area was shut down, or if they were working, or just had a great telephoto.
• People will take a picture of anything and everything.
• I can download different sizes of the photo.
• People can comment on the photos…good and bad comments.
• It’s anonymous…I may actually post some photos of my own and see what comments I get. In the meantime, I can lurk.
• Photo creators are generous enough to allow us to use their photos. I like the Creative Commons licensing.
• I can sort by most relevant, most recent, etc. and can use either thumbnails or details.

• Some blurry shots...why bother uploading them?
• People will take a picture of anything and everything.
• Tagging seems to be an inexact science, so it can be hard to find exactly what I want.

As for how it relates to our previous readings, it’s everything we’ve studied so far this semester—it is social, tagged, interactive, and wiki-like—all mixed together.

Social – I did some browsing through random photos. Skipped kid photos, Scientology protest photos, and a bike rally; focused more on landscapes and oddness. In Wikinomics, Tapscott is talking about, but his description works for Flickr too: “People who use similar tags are likely to have similar interests. Those shared interests provide an incentive to find out what other like-minded people are bookmarking? (42). In Connect!, Zalenka states, “Try social networking websites to show yourself as a three-dimensional human and to see other people in the same way? (270). Flickr could easily be used to build personal relationships.

Tagged – All photos are tagged, some better than others, but tagged nonetheless. I saw some photos of the bridge (without humans) that were tagged with Carol Molnau and Tim Pawlenty…huh?!? I think the photographer went overboard on Zalenka’s second tip for tagging (“Use lots of tags? [124]). I can only assume the tags make sense to him. Wikinomics says “…tagging…becomes the basis for learning new things and making connections to new people? (42). Sounds social to me.

Interactive – Flickr is also interactive and social. As a photographer, I can upload my photos to share them and see what comments are made. As a viewer, I can make positive or negative comments.

Wiki-like – In the wiki-world, the photographer would allow anyone to alter their work. I’m not sure I actually saw any that were altered, but there may have been one. One photo said something like Additional small branch upper right, but I’m not sure it was an altered photo because it didn’t say anything about an original source and it looked like something from a newspaper.

Tapscott says “The new art and science of wikinomics is based on four powerful new ideas: openness, peering, sharing, and acting globally? (Wikinomics, 20). Flickr has all of these ideas.

A Picture vs. A Thousand Words

This week's task of mining Flickr for subject-relevant photos recalled our work in Week 3, getting started in The reading that went along with that best for me was Chapter 6 of Connect!, in which Zelenka discussed web searching, tagging, bookmarking, and in particular the concept of Orienteering. By now we've been through the ringer with this stuff, to some extent, and with a collectively better understanding and experience on how to go about the search, I look forward to the group's end results with images. Even though we're searching only one site and starting from set terms, using the Advanced Search options, following groups within which we find one good image, and deviating from or expanding upon the initial terms still follows the Orienteering concept and should give us a very nice, pertinent gallery.

Another point (that I feel pretty lucky not to have run in to with photos this week) is the problem of parallel content becoming identical content. We started approaching a visual representation of that when we used Thinkature in Week 4 to develop our preliminary site structure. Boxes and linkages got very crowded by the time we all made our inputs. With Flickr photos the content really can be identical, not just alike. Plenty of them will serve to depict multiple subjects so we will have to be keenly selective. By all doing this at the same time though, I think it also provides an opportunity to refine for ourselves what our topics are really about, and how that translates visually versus textually. My own topic, Environmental Concerns, is not well and dramatically represented in a variety of ways in many photos. With this event, there weren't catastrophic spills or chemical plumes or anything like that. There were cars and chunks of cement in the river, but one or two photos pretty well covers that - especially when those photos also pertain to every other subtopic. So, the Flickr search was a good exercise in refining that focus.

Now, I've got my thousand words, but there are all these pictures too. Time to work on striking the balance.

April 2, 2008

Photo sharing with Flickr

I have been introduced to so much technology on the web since taking this class. What I find so amazing is the vast amount of information sharing that is out there. It has become apparent to me that the Web 2.0 has become a place of mass collaboration popularity. Two things come to mind in regards to my observations about previous readings and applying them to Flickr and our use of it. One is that of open-platforms and the other is intellectual property.

“Flickr provides the basic technology platform and free hosting for photos. Users do everything else. They create their own self-organizing classification system for the site (by tagging photos with descriptive labels.? (Wikinomics, pg. 38). Flickr is very similar to that of in that users tag web sites that are of interest to them and can be shared by anyone that has signed up as a member. Without the collaborative effort from the users, these sites would not exist. In fact, “The culture of generosity is the very backbone of the Internet.? (Wikinomics, pg. 206).

Intellectual property and copyright are topics that we have discussed in this class. It is not always simple to determine who the work belongs to. According to our reading in “Bound by Law?the laws have changed and all creative works are automatically copyrighted. With the growing popularity of sites that encourage group collaboration and information sharing, determining who to give credit for their work has become extremely difficult. Last weeks introduction to Creative Commons and how the Internet fits in with it was very interesting. There are many different types of licenses that can be used to protect creative work. I am particularly interested in that of Attribution (by) since it allows others to distribute, remix, and tweak and build upon work as long as you credit the individual for the original creation.

I found it to be very helpful when searching through Flickr photos that you are able to conduct an advanced search within cc-licensed photos. That way we already know that the images are properly licensed for our purposes and we do not need to modify them in any way.

In conclusion, when using Flickr I think of it’s mass collaboration abilities due to it’s openness to allow anyone to contribute to the site. Intellectual property is also important due to the fact that people are contributing their work and should be recognized for doing so. Overall I found Flickr to be a site that I will not only use for this class, but to share with my family and friends as well.