April 3, 2009

Pictures and Copyright: Web two point Woah!

I thoroughly enjoyed my Flickr experience this evening. The application was easy to use, it was free, and I found some friends that use it too. However, since I was looking for mobile technology pictures, I found myself thinking – I could use my own camera and get a picture of my son watching YouTube and it would be the same caliber as many of the pictures I came across. After last week’s lesson about copyright I was almost offended when I discovered that two of my family members I found on Flickr used full copyright for all of their pictures. I can understand why some of the pictures are fully copyrighted; my husband’s aunt is practically a professional photographer. However, my best guess is she simply doesn’t understand that she has any option to not copyright or to conditionally copyright her images.

On the subject of copyright, I have a really cute kid and some of the pictures we have of him are priceless and belong on the cover of a magazine (I admit full bias). But there’s no reason I would object to being asked if someone could use them for educational purposes or for non-commercial endeavors. In fact, I would find it flattering. I kind of want to work with graphic design and CGI when I am done with school and actually have spare time, and if so – I would definately offer some samples under a creative commons license. Am I that weird or do people just not understand that this license involves? Full copyright on the internet just seems odd. For example, the internet is all about knowledge transfer, connection, and interaction. Copyright turns the internet from Web 2.0 to a museum: you can look, but you can’t touch.

As I draft this post I am watching WCCO news and a story about social networking just came on, see the link below. It is about a new "Skimmer" program that a twin cities company developed. It can help you keep up with all of your social networks. I find it ironic, because social networking applications were the answer to my being too busy to keep up with all of my friends – now I can’t keep up with my shortcuts for keeping up with my friends. It’s an enjoyably vicious cycle.

I constantly get comments from friends and coworkers about social networking application like, “a month ago when you mentioned Twitter that was the first I had heard of it – now it’s everywhere!” or “I have been using LinkedIn for a while, but I never realized it was considered a Web 2.0 application”. I can only imagine the technology my son will bring home with him from elementary school in the next 5-10 years.

I am still frustrated with Web 2.0 in a business sense. I suppose I can understand, since Web 2.0 is all about sharing and the medical device business is all about trade secrets. The field of sterilization; however, could greatly benefit from a little shared knowledge and those benefits would be passed along to the patient in the form of lower medical cost and higher quality medical devices.

Letterman just had a skit on about “sex-ting”. Seriously!?! New forms of communication are everywhere – on the radio the other day there was a story about people who talk like they text. I had heard we were on the verge of a “new orality” but I didn’t realize it was already here!

Continue reading "Pictures and Copyright: Web two point Woah!" »

Not so easy

When using flickr this week, I kept thinking that this website has too much information and it is cluttered. This is a huge usability issue for me and I don't know how reliable the website is. Again, I have been having issues with the fact that anyone can post to flickr and can claim that the media is authentic or real. The other issue that I can with this site is that when you get specific in the search engine, it comes back as nothing found or gives suggestions of other phrases that also don't produce any material. This site is extreamly unfriendly for new users and frustrated me right from the start. In the usability 101 article that we reade a website must follow basic standards to pass the grade and they are:
Learnability: How easy is it for users to accomplish basic tasks the first time they encounter the design?
Efficiency: Once users have learned the design, how quickly can they perform tasks?
Memorability: When users return to the design after a period of not using it, how easily can they reestablish proficiency?
Errors: How many errors do users make, how severe are these errors, and how easily can they recover from the errors?
Satisfaction: How pleasant is it to use the design?
In evaluating the Flickr site, I feel that it is not so easy and fails almost all of the criteria above. It does serve a purpose to have a medium to share media and get information out there, but I just have that gut feeling of not trusting people.

I'm bringing 2 - point - 0 back....

Using Flickr made me reflect on all that we have learned about Web 2.0 technologies this semester. I thought back fondly of Mr. O'Reily, the first article we read, and how I didn't quite grasp what he was trying to say. But now his final words make complete sense to me:

"The competitive opportunity for new entrants is to fully embrace the potential of Web 2.0. Companies that succeed will create applications that learn from their users, using an architecture of participation to build a commanding advantage not just in the software interface, but in the richness of the shared data." (pg. 5).

This is what I experienced throughout the semester and this week with Flikr. Collaboration is the name of the game people, and the more we do it, the better these programs are. It is a cycle, a good one, if people do it correctly and understand the technology. I particularly like how easy it is to not have to worry about Copyrights on Flikr. After last week's articles I felt I would never be able to not violate some sort of copyright law. Flikr makes it very easy to avoid the hassle and brings people together through their shared work.

The technology itself is also very easy to use. By searching for full text or tags you can find any image that has been uploaded, by any person, anywhere. You can then see what the image is, what else the uploader has with it, and go from there. You can connect it to like we have been doing, very easily. Basically, I didn't find a down side to Flikr. I just reviewed this other site for another online class I have and had to say whether or not I liked the site. It was basically an online word document that people could create, manage, edit, delete, and share with others. However, it wasn't any different or cooler than email. Flikr is another story. This is an easier way to upload images, share them, find them, use them, anything you would need to do with them in a safe and free environment.

I am really glad that a site like this will be able to help us enhance our wiki, and that we will know where the sources are coming from and that we are allowed to use them. This will give our audience the peace of mind that everything on the site is honest and put together well. What more could we want??

Surfing through Flickr

In order to mine the best photos using Flickr I am going to return to the week 3 reading of Connect! Surf Waves of Information. Zelenka highlights some great tips on page 124 for tagging:
1) Use individual words in addition to compounds for tags.
I can use the keyword of rnc in addition to other helpful key words like protesters, police, citizen, and journalists.
2)Use a lot of tags.
The more tags we use, the more helpful it will be for our fellow wiki workers to find the best images.
3) Use declarative tags that say what you're doing to do with this link.
If some of us already use Flickr to tag information we could also start using a personal tag toread, tostudy, towiki
as a way to distinguish information.
4)Use tags that tell you about the people involved in the page.
This is where we could give the photographer credit and keep that information organized and readily available.

I learned a lot about tagging when we had our week on Delicious but I think this review in Connect! is a helpful reminder about how helpful it can be to use tagging to collect these images on Flickr.

The Importance of Visual Aids

When it comes to ways to make a research-based presentation more readable and interesting, the use of visual aids is easily the fastest and easiest way to do this. Pictures are the most important part of any child's storybook, and it seems to me that we never quite grow out of that initial affection for the visual aid. In our case, the pictures are not only for entertainment purposes, but mostly are used to emphasize the points we are making, creating a very clear visual effect. For instance, even the most clearly written description of a large crowd of protesters in a stand-off with riot police cannot compare with a photograph that shows the amount of people, how the police are restraining them, and the raw emotion on their faces.
From the work I have been doing with Flickr so far, I would describe it as a very efficient way to filter through a massive amount of visual information. The fact that they are working with Creative Commons is even more exciting to me because it provides a media through which people with a need for this intellectual property can directly contact the photographers that are willing to share. It seems that Flickr has created the easiest possible way for people to share their photographs in a way that does not compromise anyone's rights to intellectual property.
I did have one problem, however. My topic has to do with undercover police and their affect on the republican national convention. While it would be great to have some visual aids, the police wouldn't be doing a very good job if their undercover officers were obvious enough for people to identify them and take their picture to upload to Flickr. A search for, "undercover police republican national convention" brought up one photo. I decided to remove "undercover" from my next search and filter through the photographs that I thought may be related, but I only came up with a couple more photos. While Flickr is a great tool, I don't think that there is a very good chance of me finding pictures of undercover police anywhere.

Flickr makes me think

Flickr provides pictures for our website. It helps create a non-boring environment for the readers, and it also helps site visitors see what the topic is about. Many site visitors may not be from the United States and may be somewhat confused about the RNC. “A picture is worth a thousand words.” (O’Reilly, p.295) During my journey through Flickr and Delicious, I saw pictures that I may never have described through words. For example, I came across the picture of the lone police officer attempting to arrest a demonstrator. In someone else’s mind, what would that look like by just reading off the page? Sometimes it’s best for the readers to see an image, and know that the writers are not just making up an event.
On the other hand, the pictures we choose must not be too limited. Limited, meaning, we don’t show preference to any one group at the RNC. For example, we don’t just show pictures of the demonstrators, the police officers, or the delegates, etc. We must show images of al groups equally, if it fits into our pages. I realized this while trying to search for pictures of bystanders. My page is on RNC’s impact on community: tension. I aimed to depict community through pictures, but flipping through the pictures, I saw that every group created a community of their own.
The different types of communities I saw were not the pictures I really wanted. I really was looking for pictures showing bystanders and observers looking confused or just showing the same expression; what I found were groups of people who stood up for their cause. The cause may have been to protest the RNC, maintain security, or whatnot. This means I either have to search deeper into Flickr for pictures showing community tension in bystanders in St. Paul, non-observers at home, or I have to rewrite my page. Do I focus on each community and their tensions with one another?
Coming back to Flickr and Delicious: O’Reilly identifies these two as social classification. (p.78) Apparently tagging was intended to make navigation easier on users, but as users tagged more, there is a growth and change through the tag word choices. This is seen in our Delicious tag cloud also. At the beginning some of us may have tagged pictures with “RNC 2008” then switched to the more used “rnc08.” It’s not wrong, it is a lot more helpful in consistency, but it is indication of change through us. Also, I’m really glad that Flickr has included the Creative Commons type pictures in the advanced search. This makes our lives a lot easier, knowing we can use the pictures without worries. Thanks for reading, and see you next week!

Issues with Flickr & Images

Images can be used for a number of different things, and they can all serve multiple purposes. In our case, I think images should clarify our text and also make it more credible. Just as in newspapers or journalistic reports, images are used as a way to prove that the story is true – to further emphasize the point that is being made. Additionally, images can do a great deal to break up the monotony of straight text and add some visual entertainment to the page. This will be another important purpose of our images. I have already noticed some of our pages to be quite lengthy in terms of text, and visitors will not enjoy a page that has nothing but reading material. Though occasionally images are thought to ‘dumb down’ the text of a professional writing, our site needs images to portray the events that we are describing.

In terms of our previous discussions and readings, I think the two biggest issues we must cater to in our use of images are accessibility and copyright. People with a handicap or disability that may use a screen reader to view our site need to be able to understand the layout of the page as well as its content. Providing alternate text for our images will help make our page more accessible, and we will also have to determine where on the page it is best to place the images (Web Accessibility 101). They should be in a spot that makes the most sense and where it will correlate most to the text that it is describing. They should also have captions that explain the specifics of the image if necessary. As far as copyright goes, we will obviously need to get permission from wherever we take the image from, and give them credit as well. Flickr is a great database of images that we could take advantage of, and from what I’ve seen so far we are doing a good job of collecting appropriate images that will help us in building our site. (Creative Commons)

April 2, 2009

Flickr Just Right

Flickr is a great site to find multiple pictures that you are looking for on an event. According to the Style Guide, a home page should have four major elements:identity, navigation, content, and timeliness. We can use the images from Flickr to help give our page identity and most importantly relate to the content of our individual pages. We need to decide how to lay them out on the page appropriately for user friendliness. They should be descriptive in themselves to fit in with the topic that brought the reader there in the first place.

Going back to the topic of copyrighting, we will search only for images that contain a Creative Commons license. By using those images that are protected by Creative Commons licensing will allow use to use them with permission while still giving credit to its owner.

What rule of composition are we going to use in our design? We need one that will catch their eye and isn’t just a bunch of random information thrown onto a web page. Every item should have a distinct location and a reason for being placed there. They are there to help describe the events that we are trying to teach our readers about. Sometimes words aren’t enough especially if you are a visual learner.

We need to use imaging software such as Photoshop to help make the images as clear as possible, so they don’t look tacky or detract from our page. The colors also need to be properly adjusted to “pop” and catch their eye so that they either click on it or read about it.

Flickr Limitations

I created my Flickr account this past weekend. Since I did not have a Yahoo! account, I had to create one of those too. I didn't realize that Flickr was actually a part of Yahoo!; I thought they were affiliates. Once I had uploaded my required photos, I began searching for images relating to my topic: legal issues in the pre-RNC raids. My initial search showed promising results. There were over 27,000 images relating to "RNC" and 6,520 of those were Creative Commons licensed. When I began looking through the pictures, though, I realized that most of them showed police squads and riots during the RNC. Since I was looking for pictures about the pre-RNC raids, I figured I would try to narrow my search. I tried "RNC raids" "pre-RNC" "republican national convention" "st. paul homes raided" and the names and addresses of everyone involved.

I only found one picture.

I am starting to wonder whether, in a greater sense, Creative Commons will have a negative impact on citation and copyright. If "licensed under Creative Commons" becomes criteria for more assignments like this one, the wealth of usable, relevent information available will decrease significantly. It would be awesome if everyone licensed their media under Creative Commons, but unless this happens, a sort of information hierarchy will emerge. Does one method of copyright actually make the material better or more valid? I hope not.

April 1, 2009

Flicker, Creative Commons, and Other Ramblings

The thing that struck me right away about how we used flickr was how easy it was to find pictures with a creative commons license like we talked about last week when we discussed copy write. All you have to do is do an advanced search and that even give you further options depending on whether you want to modify the image or not. This makes it very easy for the user to find images that they can use in their own documents such as our wiki page.

I think Flickr also relates back to week 1 when talked about web 2.0. Flickr allows professional photographers, aspiring photographers, casual photographers, or just anyone with a camera a place to showcase their work as well as see other peoples work. It goes the other way to it does not only benefit the photographers but the people looking for pictures too. If it wasn't for web 2.0 sites such as Flickr and youtube we would only have photographs and video of the RNC protests from major media sources and its highly doubtful that, that is the kind of photographs or video we are looking for. Through these web 2.0 sites we get a more first hand experience of what it was like to be their on not the experience that the major media tries to portray.

Surprisingly I had never used flickr prior to this class and after playing around with it I have realized it truly is a remarkable site. The search by camera function amazes me and I'm sure is awesome to a true photo enthusiast (which I am not, I don't know what any of the buttons on my digi cam do except the shutter button). And I can see how both the mass corporation (yahoo in this case) and the user benefit from it. The user gets to see what type of pictures all these cameras take and Yahoo gets to refer you to where to buy the camera via Yahoo shopping. It seems like it is a happy medium between the user benefit and the corporation benefit as well and that is probably how that site has become so successful.

Aesthetically pleasing

Flckr was extremely easy to use and while there are a lot of other image based sites out there, Flickr seems to be the best choice for our wiki. The Creative Commons section was useful and means we do not have to track down the creator/origin for each image. Although I wonder what will become of the maps I found during my research. My topic is Community Impact Traffic and you can imagine there isn’t much to find on flickr except photographs of different modes of transportation.

My greatest concern when it comes to graphics is relevance. Our wiki’s main priority is to inform people and graphics can definitely help give good visuals, but a reader will not continue to click on links if every page is a shot of people walking and holding signs. Yes it is important to illustrate protesters, but do we need ten shots of essentially the same message? It sounds sort of silly but people like pretty pictures and almost need them to stay interested. Our readers come to our website for information so we do not need to entertain them with flashy images, but they will not stay if they feel as if they are going to receive the same information over and over again. With that being said, I know our wiki will be fantastic but its going to take a criticizing eye to make it appealing to our readers. Why stay and re-visit our website instead of another? Because our content is useful and aesthetically pleasing. As a team we edit/comment each other’s words but will we apply the same critique when it comes to image choice?


It seems to me that we are going to use Flickr as a resource to find images for our site. Images and graphics have a number of uses on the web. According to the Web Style Guide (2008), they can be used as illustrations, diagrams, quantitative data, analysis and causality, and integration. The images we find from Flickr will probably be used in many ways mentioned by the Web Style Guide (2008): to help prove a point, to make our pages more visually interesting, to give examples of things we mentioned in the text, to clarify information, etc. It will make what we say more effective and meaningful.

An important piece to incorporating images on our site is how will they be organized? Just as we determined how to organize our textual information, we need to determine how we want to organize our graphics. Will they be included within the text? Will they be off to the side as a sidebar? Will they be near the top to draw a reader in? Or at the bottom to leave the reader with a lasting image? In an obvious way, it seems to me that the graphics would be appropriately placed near the text that discusses the concept that image portrays. So whether the information we present follows an organization scheme like chronological or an organizational structure like a top-down hierarchy (Morville & Rosenfeld, 2007)I think our images should follow suit.

Additionally, I think it is important to keep in mind the accessibility of our images. Our audience will have a vast range of abilities. It is important that when we use images, we include text as well describe the image for those who may be color blind or have difficulty understanding it (Web Accessibility 101, UW-Madison, 2003).

Finally, it is important that we use images that we have permission to use. In our recent discussions on copyright, it is essential that we are not stealing someone else’s work and that we give credit where it is due. Our Flickr images will have Creative Commons licenses which gives the author the opportunity to tell others what part of their work can be duplicated (Creative Commons Video). This allows us to easily incorporate the image in our site (with permission of course.)

One final comment: it might be good to include links to our pictures for those who are interested in seeing more. They will be able to go directly to Flickr (or any other site where we got images) and see what else there is.