Web 2.0: January 2009 Archives

Need a Free Green Flash Sun Photo ?

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I recently did the copyright & free graphic session of the Winterfest Digital Media Day, with accompanying handout (FindingImages.pdf). I have to confess that images hold a special place in my heart pedagogy wise. As much as I love text, there are times when nothing can replace a visual.

Like text, still images can also be "cheaper" than video or animation especially in terms of the amount of memory needed. But images can be expensive in terms of production especially if you are wanting an image of a relatively rare phenomenon (e.g. a green flash when the sun appears green just at dusk or dawn). It's often cheaper to borrow if you can.

Sun at horizon appearing green
Seriously enlarged image of a green sun on the horizon. Original courtesy of Kai Schreiber. Licensed under Creative Commons

Fortunately, the Web 2.0 world has given us more options than ever for finding legal images. For instance the Wikipedia page on the Green Flash includes a lovely photo donated by Mila Zinkova who licenses under a GNU Free License documentation. Wikipedia is great for finding both donated images and images from the U.S. government which are otherwise buried in opaque search interfaces.

Flickr is another great source. As Stevie Rocco explained in an earlier copyright seminar, the advanced search option in Flickr includes a checkbox for Creative Commons licensed items. Again, you can often good results like this image from Mike Baird.

I can attest to the power of both tools because I had to find an astonishing arrays of photos for thermodynamics including:

I'm really glad we didn't have to send a photographer to all of these locations.

My Weekly iTunes Song of the Week Sidetrip

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One of the few Web 2.0 activities I regularly participate in is the iTunes Song of the Week. In fact I participate so regularly, I would say it's almost like a cult for me. Obviously, I love it for the free music, and frankly I haven't felt so musically hip in years. If you download enough, you will eventually get a free song which later appears in a major cinema soundtrack, a teen show or perhaps the Wegman's background music track.

But it's also very interesting to read the reviews for the iTunes Community (which is fairly large). If nothing else it is a great chance to see how one of the larger "communities" functions in the wild. Sometimes a review will recommend another single which I have already heard somewhere in a TV ad, but have never been able to download. Very informative (and profitable for the recording artists). Peer to peer is definitely king here.

I've also learned that for every new artist I have discovered here, I read at least one review from someone who has seen said artist in Dallas, London, San Francisco or Los Angeles. No matter how "with it" I become with the modern musical trends, I know that there will be someone even hipper. Web 2.0 means learning humility.

Of course, the interesting part of all may be the ratings fights. Do you love it or hate it? Or more importantly - do you love it when everyone else hates it? Based on reviews I have seen, I would have to definitely have to classify the core iTunes Single of the Week audience as being suburban and favoring acoustic driven 90's flavored singer-song writers. If we are on a rap or electronica week, reaction is rarely positive. As a closet urban music listener, it IS frustrating to see how little Turkish/German jazzy electronica is appreciated.

This week, we are back to singer songwriters, but the top review was a 1-star questioning the ubiquity of the singer-songwriter genre. A community rebellion perhaps? We are asked to click "Yes" if we agree, and push the review even further up the rankings. I have to confess that I did click "Yes", but then downloaded the song. It actually seems fairly catchy, and I do like the chance to expand my horizons.