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Multicolr Search Lab


There’s nothing better than an innovative new search tool which really adds functionality not previously available.  I’m a Flickr aficionado, but sometimes finding pictures with just the right colours can be a nightmare.  Or, at least, it used to be a nightmare: enter Idée Inc‘s nifty new Multicolr tool which allows you to specify single or up to ten different colours and return results from Flickr in which those colours dominate.  In the test above I looked for blue and white combination and came up with plenty of excellent images.  Dinosaur Robots have given Multicolr a good test run and the results are impressive. Even more impressive is the fact that Multicolr’s default settings search for photos and images licensed under the Creative Commons!  Finding stylist photos for reuse has never been easier! 🙂

[Via Boing Boing]

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Links for July 15th 2008

Interesting links for July 9th 2008 through July 15th 2008:

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Links for May 14th 2008

Interesting links for May 12th 2008 through May 14th 2008:

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Links for May 12th 2008

Interesting links for May 9th 2008 through May 12th 2008:

  • TimeTube – “Creates a timeline for any YouTube keyword search–very handy for visualising the activity around particular topics–and iterations/transformations of particular videos–over time.” (Via Jean)
  • Victorian Liberal staffers sacked for blogging [gatewatching] – Two staffers in the Victorian Liberal Party were fired after they were outed as the writers of a blog highly critical of the party’s leader. Jason Wilson: “blogs revealed once more as a politically disruptive technology”. (More from the ABC)
  • Storm Troopin’ – a set on Flickr – An absolutely wonderful set which tells the convoluted tale of Star Wars StormTrooper (toy) TK-704 and his many adventures in our world, from his quest for love, the arrival of other Troppers, and their shared love of doughnuts!
  • Grand Theft Auto IV smashes sales record [theage.com.au] – “Grand Theft Auto IV blew away video game and Hollywood records as its creators reported that it raked in an unprecedented $US500 million in its opening week.”
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Virgin Mobile and Creative Commons Sued by US Teen

A couple of months ago I wrote about Virgin Mobile’s controversial use of CC-Licensed images from Flickr in one of their advertising campaigns.  Things have now taken an odd twist, with on of the teenagers features in the photos suing not just Virgin but Creative Commons as well!  As the Sydney Morning Herald reported:

A Texas family has sued Australia’s Virgin Mobile phone company, claiming it caused their teenage daughter grief and humiliation by plastering her photo on billboards and website advertisements without consent. […] The picture of 16-year-old Chang flashing a peace sign was taken in April by Alison’s youth counsellor, who posted it that day on his Flickr page, according to Alison’s brother, Damon. In the ad, Virgin Mobile printed one of its campaign slogans, “Dump your pen friend,” over Alison’s picture. The ad also says “Free text virgin to virgin” at the bottom. […]

The lawsuit, filed in Dallas late yesterday, names Virgin Mobile USA LLC, its Australian counterpart, and Creative Commons Corp, a Massachusetts nonprofit that licenses sharing of Flickr photos, as defendants. […]

People who post photos on Flickr are asked how they want to license their attribution. The youth counsellor chose a sharing licence from Creative Commons that allows others to reuse work such as photos without violating copyright laws, if they credit the photographer and say where the photo was taken. His Flickr page appears at the bottom of the ad.

Worth reading on this matter are:-

[X] Lawrence Lessig’s post “On the Texas suit against Virgin and Creative Commons” (always thorough, Lessig also links to the actual complaint);
[X] The Slashdot Thread on the lawsuit;
[X] and Joi Ito’s post, in which he notes this complaint is a “very good example of the complexities of copyright and other rights and the necessity of educating the public and ourselves about what copyright exactly is.”

Personally, I find it hard to credit the complaint against Creative Commons.  I think as an organisation, CC have done more to educate people about copyright than almost any other organisation.  While I admit using certain CC licenses leaves the lay-person ignorant about the complexities of model releases and the different international standards (ie you need people in the photos to grant permission for their image or likeness to be used), the fault lies more with copyright law per se than with Creative Commons.  Of course, given this development, it would seem prudent time for a more detailed guide about using CC licenses on Flickr (and other photos) to be developed.

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Happenings from and about Creative Commons in Australia

On the back of a lot of really interesting work and events last year, Creative Commons Australia have released their “Unlocking the Potential Through Creative Commons” report which examines the role (and potential roles) of Creative Commons licensing in Australia.  It’s an easy read and has lots of examples, so very useful for artists, media producers, educators and many others who are thinking about the Creative Commons as the right copyright for their work!

Also in Australia, the CC Au blog looks at a recent controversy which has arisen due to Virgin Mobile in Australia using Flickr images licensed under Creative Commons terms.  It appears Virgin may have ignored a CC ‘non-commercial’ clause in at least one case, but also on the table is the moral question of getting the permission of people who actually appear in the photos, especially since some of the advertisements put out by Virgin Mobile are clearly mocking in the people in the pictures.  That said, clearly this is a very mainstream use of CC-licensed work and that’s definitely welcome.  It’s also noteworthy that at least some of the photographers are delighted to see their work appearing as part of this campaign.  For some of the more vitriolic comments which highlight the grey areas between intent and use, see the comments of these two Flickr images.  It’s also worth checking out the online arm of Virgin’s campaign using these images (which, I have to say, is actually quite a clever use of some of these pictures!)

More broadly, last month Mary Taylor Huber from the US Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching gave a series of guest talks here in Perth (you can hear Mary’s lecture here) and focused on what she calls building the ‘teaching commons’ which is, essentially, shared ideas and resources about teaching and learning across the globe.  In our conversation after her public lecture, we were talking about the Creative Commons as the mechanism by which the actual resources of a teaching commons could be shared.  Following that idea, I was absolutely delighted to see Creative Commons central announce that their CC Learn – “the education division of Creative Commons” – has gone live, with this fantastic mission statement:

* With legal barriers, we advocate for licensing of educational materials under interoperable terms, such as those provided by Creative Commons licenses, that allow unhampered modification, remixing, and redistribution. We also educate teachers, learners, and policy makers about copyright and fair-use issues pertaining to education.
* With technical barriers, we promote interoperability standards and tools to facilitate remixing and reuse.
* With social barriers, we encourage teachers and learners to re-use educational materials available on the Web, and to build on each other’s contributions.

Obviously CC Learn is in its early stages, but the mission is definitely a very important one and I can’t wait to see CC Learn grow!

Update (8.50am, 28 Jul 07): I’ve been reading more about the Virgin Mobile use of Flickr CC images and these posts are worth reading: “Uh, I thought YOU got the release . . .” by Carolyn E. Wright, looking at the need for model release forms for commercial use of people in photos; a post from Ian Wilson who was quite happy to see his image used by Virgin Mobile; Agency Spy’s “Flickr Is Going To Cost Virgin Mobile Millions Of Dollars“; and a longer conversation on Flickr “Virgin Mobile advertising campaign using Flickr photos“.

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The Art(s) of Venice

On our honeymoon last month, Emily and I were lucky enough to be in Venice during the heart of the 2007 Venice Biennale, one of the world’s most exciting and long-running art festivals. We saw many amazing installations and exhibitions and had a fabulous time exploring all sorts of art, as well as taking some (I think) cool photos, but I’ve found it hard to find the time to add the titles, tags and metadata to a full Flickr set. However, I’ve finally finished labeling the photos, so I encourage you to take a wonder through our captured fragments of the 2007 Biennale.

There were a number of highlights (and I’ll write about one more in a future post), but I wanted to mention a few things that really stood out. I thought Patrick Mimran’s installations and photography were amazing. His main show was an ironic set of photographs called ‘New York Parkings’ which looks at New York Car Parks, but Mimran also had an installation in Venice where a number of the rubbish bins were covered in “No Art Inside” billboards! 🙂

Emily & Atopia
Also outstanding was the Taiwanese ‘Atopia’ pavilion which combined an interesting take on manga and comic-book art with some neon installations created out of mechanical parts and ubiquitous objects to really create an interesting take on the life of everyday objects.

Wearing my academic hat, I have to say Sophie Calle’s ‘Take Care of Yourself’ exhibition in the French Pavilion was outstanding. Calle took an email she received from a lover ending the relationship and asked 107 women to interpret the email for her, with responses ranging from photographs and videos to responses from academics attacking grammar and psychoanalysts delving into the emailer’s inner psyche. I wish instead of having undergraduate lectures on multiple interpretations of a text we could just get students to immerse themselves in Calle’s work for an hour … I suspect they’d learn a lot more!

There were lots of other interesting exhibits, but one that really spoke to me (so much so I forgot to take any pictures) was the Aniwaniwa installation from New Zealand, which combined Maori dreaming with images of the 1900 hydroelectric dams to show the moment(s) when water became electricity!

Wake up Italty!
Of course, there’s were one or two (!) other bits of art to be found in Florence and Italy, but for the rebellious amongst you, check out a glimpse of the healthy street-art scene from these two magnificent cities.

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When Subiaco Oval Attacks!

The second half of 2007 hit with something of a bang today.  The combination of extreme winds and the proximity of our place to Subiaco Oval suddenly led to the rather loud, dramatic and quite dangerous appearance of the massive advertising signs from Subi Oval hitting out (glass) back door and coming to rest in our back yard:


While fascinating on some level, these huge signs had to travel over the top of the oval (they’re supposedly fixed to the stands) and fly probably 50 metres in the air before spinning down into our place.  It’s incredibly lucky that it was pouring with rain, too, because it anyone was outside, being hit by one of these could have caused some very serious injuries. 

When the winds settled a little, Emily headed out the front door and discovered a whole lot more of these hoardings lying on our road and in the drive-way, so now we have four massive advertising banners on centimetre-think cardboard sitting soggily in our little backyard:


We now have part of an SGIO sign, a National Australian bank advertisement and something that has NTER in its lettering.  I wonder when Subiaco Oval will be knocking on our door looking for them?  Maybe they’ll offer to replant the bits of the garden that were sheered in half when the sign flew in from the sky?!

(Given that these signs cost advertisers anywhere from $5000 to $60,000 dollars each to display, I suspect someone might want them back!)

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24 Hours of Flickr

Today 05.05.2007 (which is one of those lovely dates which makes sense on both US and normal people’s calendars), photography sharing and community building uber-site, Flickr, is running an event called 24 Hours of Flickr. The details:

To celebrate this global community, we invite you to join us in “24 Hours of Flickr” – a day-long global photo project. On May 5, 2007, grab your camera and whatever else you need, and chronicle your day in pictures. The group’s photos will be featured at Flickr events around the world this summer and in a companion book, which will contain a selection of photographs chosen from the group…

While the day is just beginning in the US, it’s well into the night here in Perth. I’ve remembered to carry my camera some of the day, but a lot of what I did wasn’t photography-friendly (I didn’t think taking pictures in the screening of Spider-Man 3 would be overly well received!). I’ve taken a few shots of my day in a set here. Thankfully, the paucity of shots today meant is was rather easy picking my one decent shot for the Flickr pool. The only better candidate was a photo of Emily’s work-in-progress painting of Tulips, but I it seemed wrong to post a photograph of a painting for a photography pool! So here’s the image I settled on …

Wrecked Angles ...

It’s called Wrecked Angles (oh, I do love a good pun); it’s all rectangles, unfinished painted walls, security-wired windows and cracked glass. And yet, in black and white, aesthetically quite fascinating. (It was taken in Subiaco, Western Australia, but by no means indicative of the suburb!) It doesn’t really look that impressive scaled down, but take a look full-size and see what you think.

I can’t wait to see what other photos emerge during the day! 🙂

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