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:
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.
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 librarypeople 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.
Last 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:
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."
Organizing and Sharing Photographs
Create Sets to group related photos.
Click Organize > Your Sets
Add name, description and photos (drag and drop)
Photos can be added to more than one set
Add to Map to show where you've been or where something is.
Click Organize > Your Map
Find location on map (be as specific as possible)
Drag and drop photo onto map
Use Groups to share photos with other people who have similar photos.
Click Groups > Search for Groups
When you fin one you like, click Join this Group
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)
I 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.
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.
The 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 localbusinesses.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.