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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Save Your Hi-Res Photos! 

I just found this email, which was sent to me yesterday, by a "freelance art buyer" in California:
Hi Eric

I saw an image of you? that you took? on google (attached) holding a rubik's cube. do you have it fairly hi res that i might license? Tomorrow is my deadline. If the art director likes the shot, i could pay you a few hundred dollars.

Wow — who would have thought I could make myself a few c-notes by photographing my flabby armpits? If only I'd had Diane take the pic in high res and then saved the file! D'oh! (TPCQ: "Um, Dad, ten percent of a hundred and twenty million dollars isn't twelve thousand dollars. It's...")


Here's the whole episode, apparently, "condensed for comedy".

Today I'm listening to: Soma FM!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Wikipedia is Ruining My Life 

On 10 August I went looking for information on Wikipedia about Robert E. Murray, part-owner of the Crandall Canyon Mine where six workers have been trapped since a cave-in occurred on 6 August. Finding none, I started a page on Murray, doing some exhaustive research and pulling in almost a dozen sources from across the web. I meticulously documented everything and felt quite proud of my work.

Swelling with this pride, I nominated the page for the "Did You Know?" section of the front page. There were some problems with the "hook" I proposed, but a very nice user named JayHenry helped clean it up and suggest alternatives. The result: On 16 August, my article was featured! Huzzah! (Click on the image to the right and you'll see a full screenshot.)

Since then, I've gotten drowned full-tilt to the top in Wikiediting. I've made a snazzy user page with lots of userboxes, I've joined two WikiProjects (Balzac and Organized Labour), written a page on the novel Les Chouans, uploaded pictures, and done major revisions to two pieces. All in three days.

What's going on here? I'd rather work on Wikipedia than play video games or read comics. The answer is that I've finally found out how to do it right. I've had some bad luck in the past, mostly because I didn't really know how the process works -- or, more importantly, how to participate effectively.

So now even the Italy thing is on hold while I run around fixing things and adding minutiae and staring at images from the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica. (Careful, that link is a big TIFF file.)

You're Entering a World of Pain

Those of you who watch The Colbert Report may have seen pompous ass Andrew Keen blathering on about how the internet has produced a Cult of the Amateur, and how we're losing our culture, blah blah yakkity smackity. Well, if you were as irked by him as I was, be sure to read his debate with Emily Bell at Guardian Unlimited. She makes the case against his idiocy with superb acumen.
The internet challenges us all to up our game -- it exponentially increases our audience, but it exposes frailty. It creates noise of deafening volume and, yes, it threatens copyright. But as Larry Lessig says, there are now more layers of extended copyright on pieces of creativity than ever before - and the net result of this is to actually stifle creativity rather than preserve it. Why should Disney own The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and every future iteration? Wealth in the worlds of music, art, film, television, publishing, is greater than it ever has been, but it is not evenly distributed. This is not the problem of the web or the internet but the problem of those creative "industries".

Where we profoundly disagree, I think, is in our evaluation of "cultural gatekeepers". For the past 30 years, apart from pockets of public funding or eccentricity, these cultural gatekeepers have been driven by shareholders or private equity firms. They are profit-first, margin-centric businesses. Fewer professionally-produced books, movies and recorded music, would, it seems to me, not be the end of the world, but a long-overdue market correction.
Keen even admits on his blog that he was "Walloped by Emily". (TPCQ: "Ha, ha!")


Remember Second Reality by The Future Crew, that computer demo from the mid-90s? It's on YouTube!

Today I'm listening to: Soma FM!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Giraffes, Global Warming, and Good Things 

Isn't this picture tremendous? It's from The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History's 2006 Nature's Best Image Gallery.

I haven't been posting much lately, for two reasons:
  1. I'm on summer vacation (I have less than a month to get sane before school starts); and

  2. I'm working on a big hypertext photo-packed Italy travelogue.
But there are some things I've been meaning to share. (If you want more regular updates on my life -- and who doesn't? -- check out my ramblings at Twitter.)

Articles To Read

Thanks to my ETAN buddy Joe for sending me George Monbiot on flying.
There is, in other words, no technofix. The growth in aviation and the need to address climate change cannot be reconciled.... Given that the likely possible efficiencies are small and tend to counteract each other, an 87% cut in emissions requires not only that growth stops, but that most of the aeroplanes flying today be grounded.
Happiness! You should also check out the article I wrote on Wikipedia about Murray Energy CEO Robert E. Murray, especially the part about how he claims to have been visited by a talking squirrel.

I'm also way into a graphic novel series I just found out about, The Losers, about a rogue gang of ex-CIA agents looking for payback, political and personal. It's got great writing, superb visuals (which make it easy to decipher some of the tricky sequences -- I hate it when the artist makes these hard to figure out), and lots of good leftist propaganda. Apparently there's a movie in the works with Tim Story (Barbershop) directing and James Vanderbilt (Zodiac) writing the script.


It's so hard to pick my favorite Kids in the Hall sketch. But this is definitely in my Top Ten: Never put salt in your eyes!

Today I'm listening to: Edward Scissorhands!