or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk


Information Sharing in an Emergency

   April 17th, 2013 Brian Herzog

Although I'm 20 miles from Boston, the explosions at the Marathon have been the dominant topic for the last couple days. Amid the tragedy, I couldn't help but notice a few things about the way information (and misinformation) flowed.

Almost immediately, the authorities were calling for everyone with photos or videos of the day - not just the explosions, but the entire race route throughout the morning - to share their media with the Police. They're even stopping people leaving the city through Logan airport to individually ask people if they captured anything. Of course the majority of people watching the race would have been taking pictures and video, and these will be tremendous help to the investigators. I'd never heard of this kind of solicitation on such a massive scale before, but I was impressed that City officials did not hesitate - shortly after it became clear the explosions were not an accident, they were asking for help from the public.

Also in short order Google created the Boston Marathon Explosions Person Finder - it's a way to both get information on someone that may have been near the scene, as well as a way for people to let others know they're safe. It's not the first time it was used, but is another helpful tool for sharing information.

Somewhat related, I also found it interesting that officials were repeatedly asking people to text and email loved ones instead of using their cell phones to make calls, to lighten the load on the over-burdened cell phone network. Even radio reporters at the scene kept getting cut off as their calls were dropped, and this technological fail led to rumors that the cell phone network had been deliberately shut down.

Which was false, but rumors were to be expected, I think. So I thought it was great that by Tuesday, Snopes already had a page up debunking some of the conspiracies and rumors - some of which are still being circulating among people I know and on the radio. Snopes is also continually adding information as they can.

Of course, all of this is in addition to the tip hotlines, press conferences, and other traditional ways to pass along information in situations like this. This is the closest I've ever been to this kind of emergency, and distracting myself with information logistics helped deal with the event itself.

And one last thing - a quote from Mr. Rogers, seen on Twitter:

@petemanning When I was a boy and would see scary things in the news, my mother would say 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people helping.

This quote is contained with PBS' page on helping kids cope with scary situations. From what I heard on the news, there was an abundance of on-the-scene helpers - sharing information is just another way to help.



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What is the Point of Reading?

   July 9th, 2009 Brian Herzog

kids sharing a bookSome interesting comments on my last post got me thinking about reading, and why we encourage kids to read.

I know reading is vital for learning and personal development. But beyond that, is reading just for the benefit of the reader?

I wonder: is reading without sharing the experience akin to amassing a tremendous fortune and doing nothing with it? Society tends to paint as "greedy" people who accumulate wealth just for the sake of having more money than they know what to do with. At the same time, we reward philanthropists with awe and gratitude for "giving back" and sharing their excess wealth to benefit society.

So, should reading programs not just encourage kids to total up the number of pages and hours spent reading (which can lead to competition), but to also be "knowledge philanthropists" and share what they've learned and experienced from reading (which might lead to collaboration)? Or would that intimidate kids away from reading at all?

I'm not a children's librarian or parent, so perhaps I'm just late to the party on this.



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Weird Massachusetts Is Here

   May 15th, 2008 Brian Herzog

Weird MassachusettsI know I've mentioned this before, but it's still fun: the authors of Weird Massachusetts found some photos I uploaded to flickr and asked if they could include them in the book.

I bring this up again because my complimentary copy of the book arrived - complete with my name in the photo credits. I suppose me being excited about this shows just how uncool I really am, but come on, it's neat.

This type of social networking is one of the great things about using Web 2.0 tools. But also, it illustrates the reason to share what you upload via a Creative Commons license, instead of the default All Rights Reserved (when possible, of course).

Another funny thing about this: during my ego-search of the photo credits page, I noticed two other library people listed (congratulations guys). I wonder if this is because librarians use tools like flickr more than regular people, or if we're more just inclined to share because of our profession.

Oh, and if you live in Massachusetts, this book is worth looking at. I've been here about three years, and at least half of the book was completely new to me. I'm looking forward to exploring some of these weird places this summer.



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Online Photo Sharing with Flickr

   April 3rd, 2008 Brian Herzog

Flickr Loves YouLast night I gave a workshop at my library on how to use flickr for online photo sharing (thanks to everyone who contributed). It went well, and I thought I'd post the handouts here (no slides, since it was a live demo in flickr). Feel free to use or repackage this material for your own purposes. The online version is below, and here are pdf and Word versions:

 

Introduction to Online Photo Sharing

  1. The three main reasons to use an online photo sharing website with your digital pictures are:
    • They serve as backup copies in case something happens to your computer or camera
    • They are easy to organize and manage to find later on
    • They can easily be shared with other people (better than emailing!)
  2. A short introductory video about photo sharing: http://www.commoncraft.com/photosharing
  3. Visit the Library's flickr account: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chelmsfordpubliclibrary

 

Creating a flickr account

Flickr has both a free version (limited to 200 photos, 3 sets, 100mb uploads per month - http://www.flickr.com/help/limits) and a paid "Pro" version ($24.95/year with no limits or ads).

Flickr is owned by Yahoo.com, so you will need (or need to create) a Yahoo account to use flickr. (You'll only have to do these steps once)

  1. Go to http://www.flickr.com and click "Sign In" and create your account
  2. Read the Community Guidelines
  3. Account Settings you should customize (click account name at the top right of the screen)
    Personal Information

    • Your buddy icon
    • Your screenname (this is what will show on flickr, not what you use to log in)
    • Your flickr web address (how people can find you)

    Privacy & Permissions

    • Who will be able to see, comment on, and annotate your photos
      • Only You, Friends and/or Family, Anyone
      • Guest Pass (share sets with specific people regardless of privacy settings)
      • Can be changed at any time, on a per-photo basis
    • What license will your photos have (http://creativecommons.org/about/licenses)

    There are lots more account settings that you can customize, but these are some you should customize

 

Uploading Photographs

Flickr offers lots of ways to upload photos - from the flickr website, from your computer, from your camera phone or by email. We'll look at using the flickr website.

  1. Go to http://www.flickr.com and click "Sign In"
  2. Click upload photos
  3. Browse to the photos on your camera or computer
  4. Set privacy setting, edit photo title, add description and tags (first step in organizing)

Make Notes and read Comments on your photos. Click the "Add Note" icon in the toolbar above each photo to highlight a specific area of your photo. Other flickr users will leave comments below your photos, and some will mark your photos are "favorites."

flickr image toolbar

 

Organizing and Sharing Photographs

Create Sets to group related photos.

  1. Click Organize > Your Sets
  2. Add name, description and photos (drag and drop)
  3. Photos can be added to more than one set

Add to Map to show where you've been or where something is.

  1. Click Organize > Your Map
  2. Find location on map (be as specific as possible)
  3. Drag and drop photo onto map

Use Groups to share photos with other people who have similar photos.

  1. Click Groups > Search for Groups
  2. When you fin one you like, click Join this Group
  3. Add photos to a Group's photo pool by clicking Groups > Your Groups

View Your Contacts photos to see what has been recently uploaded by people you know or like - you can also Invite people to view your photos even if they don't have a Flickr account.

Use a Badge to automatically show your photos on your website.

Print Your Photos right from flickr - choose the size and finish, and they will mail them to you.

 

Edit Your Photographs Online

Flickr uses Picnik to allow flickr users to edit photos right online. To do this, click the "Edit Photo" icon in the toolbar above the photo to edit, and this will import the photo into the Picnik editor.

  • Picnik allows for color adjustment, red-eye reduction, cropping, resizing and more
  • Some features are "Premium" - you have to pay to use them
  • "Pro" flickr users can replace photos; free account can only create new photos
  • Lots of other online photo editors are available, but this is the only one integrated with flickr

 

Glossary of Flickr Terms

Badge: A way to add photos from your flickr account right to your own website

Collection: A group of sets (can also include photos not in sets)

Contacts: Other flickr users you have chosen to add to Your Contacts page; can be Contacts, Friends or Family

Description: Text describing a photograph (shows below the photo)

Discussion board: Online discussion forum available for group members to talk to each other

Favorite: Marking a photo a "favorite" adds it to Your Favorites page, to make it easy to find later

Geotagging: Adding location-related metadata to your photos to make them findable by where they were taken (this happens automatically when you add photos to your map)

Groups: A group of flickr users with a similar interest, and share information via a photo pool and a discussion board

Metadata: Information about your photos used to organize and find them. Tags, titles and descriptions are examples of metadata, but your camera will also automatically add shutter speed, exposure, white balance, etc. to your photo's metadata

Note: Text describing a highlighted section of a photograph (shows right on the photo)

Photostream: The photos uploaded to a flickr account

Picnik: The tool flickr uses for online photo editing

Pool: The photos of individual group members that they have added to the group

Set: A group of related photographs

Tags (or tagging): Keywords added to a photograph to make it easy to find

Title: Short "headline" of a photo (shows above the photo)

 

More Flickr Resources

 

Other Online Photo Resources (no downloading required)

Photo Sharing:

Photo Editing:




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Online Photo Tools

   March 13th, 2008 Brian Herzog

cameraI am giving a workshop in early April on using flickr. It's the last in a digital photography workshop series at my library, because, after people learn how to use and take nice pictures with their digital camera, the flickr workshop will show them one option for doing something with those digital pictures.

I thought I'd get a jump on preparing for it, by compiling a list of websites I'd like to mention in addition to flickr - not just online photo sharing websites, but websites that let you edit photos, sites that have free archives of photos, etc.

In the process of working on it, it occurred to me that it'd be worthwhile to post it here, too. It's a long list, but certainly not all-inclusive, so if your favorite isn't listed here, please share.

Photo Sharing:

Photo Editing:

Image Archives:

Other flickr-related Information:

Also, this list will probably change a bit closer to the workshop.



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Found on Flickr for Fun and Profit

   February 12th, 2008 Brian Herzog

Flickr Loves YouI've had a flickr account for less than a year. Last week, a group contacted me, asking if they could use one of my photographs in their upcoming publication.

This is the second time that this has happened to me (in less than a year!), so I'm guessing it is a common occurrence on flickr.

Weird Massachusetts book coverThe first time it happened, I was almost awestruck: the editors of the Weird U.S. books and television show found me on flickr and wrote asking permission to use some of my photographs in their upcoming Weird Massachusetts book. The photographs they wanted were of Hammond Castle in Gloucester, MA. After exchanging a few emails, I think they're also going to use some I took around Westford, MA, of the Westford Knight and an Edgar Allan Poe memorial.

In exchange, they've agreed to send a couple copies of the book for me and my library, and also come to my library during their book tour.

Schmap LogoThe more recent flickr contact from last week was from Schmap, publisher of, I think, electronic travel guides and maps. They specifically asked about some pictures I took in Omaha, of where I stayed and a couple local businesses.

I didn't get anything in exchange for agreeing to that use, but that's fine. Most of my pictures go up under a Creative Commons license, so I don't really expect anything; just that other people aren't blatantly and secretly using them for commercial use.

If you're interested, I have a screenshot of the Schumap photo release webpage. Also, the text of their license agreement is below - very uncharacteristically of me, I actually read it. I found it interesting how tailored it was to pictures found on flickr - perhaps this is just another sign of how companies and legalese is shifting towards the Web 2.0 environment. It's cheaper to use other peoples' photographs than to hire your own photographers, and people who post publicly are likely willing to share for free.

TERMS OF SUBMISSION

THESE TERMS OF SUBMISSION (THE “TERMS”) REPRESENT A LEGAL AGREEMENT BETWEEN YOU, EITHER AN INDIVIDUAL PERSON OR A SINGLE LEGAL ENTITY (“YOU”), AND SCHMAP, INC. (“SCHMAP”). BY CLICKING THE “SUBMIT” BUTTON, YOU CONFIRM YOUR ACCEPTANCE OF THE TERMS.

1. PHOTOS
The term "Photos" refers to one or more photographs and/or images licensed by You to Schmap pursuant to the Terms.

2. LICENSE GRANT
Subject to the terms and conditions herein, You hereby grant Schmap a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, perpetual license to include the Photos in the current and/or subsequent releases of Schmap's destination/local guides.

3. FAIR USE RIGHTS
Nothing in these Terms is intended to reduce, limit, or restrict any rights arising from fair use, first sale or other limitations on the exclusive rights of the copyright owner under copyright law or other applicable laws.

4. LIMITATIONS
The license granted in Section 2 above is made subject to and limited by the following express limitations:

(a) Schmap may only distribute, publicly display, publicly perform, and/or publicly perform the Photos pursuant to the Terms.

(b) Schmap shall be required to keep intact all copyright notices for the Photos and provide, reasonable to the medium or means of utilization, the name of the original author (or pseudonym, if applicable) if supplied, for attribution in Licensor's copyright notice, terms of service or by other reasonable means, and a credit (implemented in any reasonable manner) identifying the use of the Photos in any derivative Photos created by Schmap.

(c) Schmap shall, to the extent reasonably practicable, provide Internet link(s) to your Photos.

(d) Schmap shall not sublicense the Photos.

(e) Schmap shall indicate to the public that the Photos are licensable to others under the Creative Commons license that you have assigned to the Photos prior to Schmap's initial short-listing of your Photos, and provide a link to this license, where reasonably practical.

(f) Schmap shall continue to make its destination/local guides available at no cost to end users.

5. RIGHTS
You confirm that You own or otherwise control all of the rights to the Photos and that use of the Photos by Schmap will not infringe or violate the rights of any third parties.

6. NO OBLIGATION
Schmap shall have no obligation whatsoever to reproduce, distribute, broadcast, or otherwise make use of the Photos licensed by You to Schmap hereunder.

7. NO AFFILIATION
While the Flickr website and/or Flickr API have been used to short-list your Photos, Schmap claims no affiliation or partnership with Flickr.

8. MISCELLANEOUS
If any provision of the Terms is ruled unenforceable, such provision shall be enforced to the extent permissible, and the remainder of the Terms shall remain in effect. The Terms constitute the entire agreement between the parties with respect to the Photos licensed hereunder. There are no understandings, agreements or representations with respect to the Photos not specified hereunder. If there is any dispute about or involving the Terms or the license granted hereunder, You agree that such dispute shall be governed by the laws of the State of California without regard to its conflict-of-law provisions. You agree to personal jurisdiction by and venue in the state and federal courts of the State of California, City of San Francisco. The license granted in the Terms may not be modified without the mutual written agreement of You and Schmap.



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