Generating Meaning or Fluff?

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I love this: a mashup that generates great-looking ads from Flickr pictures and a computer. The conclusion: We realise how easily affected we are by words and pictures together, but how the mix often doesn’t mean very much, especially when they’re ads.

By remixing corporate slogans, I intend to show how the language of advertising is both deeply meaningful, in that it represents real cultural values and desires, and yet utterly meaningless in that these ideas have no relationship to the products being sold. In using the Flickr images, the piece explores the relationship between language and image, and how meaning is constructed by the juxtaposition of the two.

Of course, it also raises the question: At what point would it be cheaper and more effective to generate ad copy by computer?

THE AD GENERATOR

How to Monitor Your Flickr Album

The best way to keep tabs on who is linking to your Flickr photo album is through Technorati, the blog-tracking service. But it’s not as straightforward as it could be, so here’s a guide, based almost entirely on that provided by the Technology Evangelist Ed Kohler, for which I offer grateful thanks.

Setting up the Technorati end

Sign up for Technorati if you don’t already have an account.

Go to Technorati’s start claim page, and click on the Blogs tab:

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Scroll to the bottom of the page to the Claim a Blog section and paste in your Flickr.com page into the URL box:

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Click on the Begin Claim button:

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You’ll be taken through a four step process, the next stage of which is to choose your “claim method”. Use the Post Claim method if you’re offered more than one, by clicking on the blue link, as per below:

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In the next screen follow the instructions by selecting the prepared code in the light green box:

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Setting up the Flickr end

This is where it gets trickier: open a second browser window, go to your Flickr account and choose a recent photo that’s public. Choose the “Edit title, description, and tags” link on the right hand side:

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In the description box of the photo delete all existing descriptions (copy them if you like to a text file — you can always paste them back later.)

Copy the code from the Technorati box into the Description field of your Flickr photo, deleting all the stuff that isn’t the link:

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(Removing both other descriptions and the HTML code seems to be important. Without it, it might not work.)

Save changes to the photo:

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Wrapping it Up

Now go back to the Technorati page you were on before and click on the button “Release the Spiders!” This will instruct Technorati to go look at your Flickr page and look for the code:

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When this is complete you should receive a message on the Technorati page saying it’s successfully added your Flickr page to your list of monitored blogs. If it’s unsuccessful, go back to the Flickr image and check

  • the photo is public 
  • you’ve removed all other Description text 
  • you’ve removed the HTML from the link

and try releasing the spiders again.

Monitoring your Flickr photos

So how do you actually keep tabs on the Technorati page?

Once your Flickr page is “claimed” it should appear on your Technorati page (http://technorati.com/people/technorati/[YOURNAME]). Click on the green Authority button below the link to your Flickr page:

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You should see a list of those blogs and websites linking to your photos:

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Either bookmark this page, or else subscribe to its RSS feed. Either way, you should now be able to keep tabs on who’s linking to your Flickr photos.

Gmail’s Achilles’ Heel?

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I wondered what would happen when I reached the limit of my Gmail account, and now I know: I can buy more space. When I checked my account just now I found the message above and this one at the bottom of the page, in scary red:

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 By clicking on the purchase link I’m taken to a Google Accounts page, where I can buy more storage at the following rates:

  • 6 GB ($20.00 per year)
  • 25 GB ($75.00 per year)
  • 100 GB ($250.00 per year)
  • 250 GB ($500.00 per year)

Seems pretty reasonable — at least the 6GB one (and a kink in the armor of Google. As Google Operating System blog points out, Yahoo Mail is unlimited for free, Flickr is unlimited  for $25 a year, and there’s Microsoft SkyDrive.

So I signed up. The confirmation page had the sort of thing that reminds you you’re dealing with a company that still makes its money from selling you ads:

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And don’t expect the storage to appear immediately. Mine took two days and three emails to customer support for the order to be processed. Then a bar appeared below my inbox like this:

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While it’s good my problem’s been solved, it does indicate that Google aren’t just going to keep going releasing space to heavy users. I can’t imagine a lot of people using the space, so they can’t be expecting it to be a big earner. It’ll be interesting to see whether power users decide to jump ship to something cheaper. I won’t — for now.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

How to Send Screenshots to Flickr

Here’s a cool plug in which allows you to capture and post screenshots directly to Flickr: SnagIt Profile for Flickr

Uploading a capture to Flickr, and then sharing a link to that image, is much easier and more universal than sharing image files as attachments. Using the SnagIt to Flickr profiles, you get the best of both tools – SnagIt’s high-quality screen captures with the ease of sharing on Flickr.

SnagIt is made by the same folks who make Camtasia, one of the better screencasting programs. So it’s not surprising there’s a screencast of how it works too. (Here’s a directory of screencasting tools in case you missed it.)

After del.icio.us, a Directory of Other Things Yahoo! Should Buy

The Loose Wire Yahoo Blessing continues, as del.icio.us gets bought by y.ah.oo!. From Joshua Schacter’s blog:

We’re proud to announce that del.icio.us has joined the Yahoo! family. Together we’ll continue to improve how people discover, remember and share on the Internet, with a big emphasis on the power of community. We’re excited to be working with the Yahoo! Search team – they definitely get social systems and their potential to change the web. (We’re also excited to be joining our fraternal twin Flickr!)

Congratulations, Joshua. A lot of people still don’t seem to get del.icio.us; I’m glad Yahoo! does. As Jeremy Zawodny of Yahoo! Search puts it:

And just like we’ve done with Flickr, we plan to give del.icio.us the resources, support, and room it needs to continue growing the service and community. Finally, don’t be surprised if you see My Web and del.icio.us borrow a few ideas from each other in the future.

It’s probably good news for del.icio.us, but there are those who think the touch of Yahoo! isn’t always as light as it could be. For my part I’m smugly totting up the services I’ve tried to champion over the years that have ended up getting bought by Yahoo! There was oddpost; Upcoming; Bloomba; Konfabulator and Flickr. Of course, lots of other people loved these products too, but it’s uncanny how I get excited about something and then Yahoo! wanders in and buys it.

So here are a few other things I like:

  • Text Monkey: Easily clean copied text
  • blummy: Great bookmarklet aggregator
  • MSGTAG – MessageTag: Email receipt alert
  • Klips: you got Konfabulator; buy the rest
  • Anagram: Translates copied text into Contact, Calendar, Task, and Note items for Outlook, Palm etc
  • Multiplicity: Control all your computers from one keyboard n mouse
  • TiddlyWikis: they’re not for sale but they’re great
  • ActiveWords: Do everything without leaving the keyboard
  • 37Signals: The whole Writeboard, Basecamp, Tadalist thing
  • Flock: great browser, good way to pull all Yahoo!’s juicy new bits together (thanks, Tom)
  • clipmarks: don’t save bookmarks, save clipmarks
  • MyInfo: free-form information organizer

Thassall for now.

Backpack Offers Tags

I’m just chatting with Jason Fried of 37Signals, the guys behind Backpack, Ta-da List and Basecamp (which you should check out, if you haven’t already). Jason tells me he has today added tags to Backpack. Here’s a snippet of our conversation (and here’s a movie of it in action):

Jason Fried (37 Signals): Tags are just quick and easy ways for people to categorize their stuff
Jason Fried (37 Signals): I just wrote this FAQ that may help:
Jason Fried (37 Signals): so they’re basically just loose categories without rules
Jason Fried (37 Signals): Kind of… Whatever-comes-to-mind categories
JW: do you imagine your tags mixing it up with delicious and flickr tags?
Jason Fried (37 Signals): we’ll be releasing a Backpack API in about 30 days or so
Jason Fried (37 Signals): at that point people are free to mix whatever they want. I’m excited to see what the world does with all these tags
Jason Fried (37 Signals): we have some ideas on how to integrate Del.icio.us and Flickr into Backpack, but the API will give tens of thousands of people what they need to come up with their own ideas.

That could be interesting. I asked Jason:

JW: (could you just give some examples of how you imagine people might use tags in BP, and how they might mix them with tags from other services?)
Jason Fried (37 Signals): sure.
Jason Fried (37 Signals): take this page, for example
Jason Fried (37 Signals): this is someone using Backpack as a simple CRM-like tool
Jason Fried (37 Signals): keeping track of call notes for someone, for example
Jason Fried (37 Signals): you might tag this page: eNormcom Client “Phone Notes” April
Jason Fried (37 Signals): then, if you click the April tag you’d see all the other pages you made in April
Jason Fried (37 Signals): or if you clicked the “Phone Notes” tag you’d see all the other pages that have phone notes on them
Jason Fried (37 Signals): Or if you click Client you’ll see all the other pages that you’ve tagged as Client
Jason Fried (37 Signals): As far as other services…
Jason Fried (37 Signals): You might make a page in Backpack like
Jason Fried (37 Signals): and you might tag that: eTech Conference 2005
Jason Fried (37 Signals): then you might tag some bookmarks at delicious with the same tags
Jason Fried (37 Signals): articles and links that refer to the eTech conference
Jason Fried (37 Signals): reviews, speakers, etc
Jason Fried (37 Signals): then, perhaps, when you click “eTech” inside Backpack, you’d see your Backpack pages tagged eTech *plus* your Delicious bookmarks tagged as eTech
Jason Fried (37 Signals): and maybe your Flickr photos too that you tagged eTech

Lots of potential, I reckon.

Yahoo buys Flickr

Flickr is now part of Yahoo! As CNET reports, Yahoo has bought photo-sharing site Flickr :

Yahoo has purchased online photo-sharing service Flickr, less than a week after the Internet giant launched a beta test of a new blogging tool.

Vancouver, British Columbia-based Flickr lets users upload digital photos from computers and camera phones, put together photo albums, and post photos to blogs, among other things.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens to Flickr. According to a Yahoo spokesperson, Flickr will remain a standalone site for now. The company’s employees, however, will relocate to Sunnyvale later this year.

Wired Piece on Tagging

It’s a few days old now, but for those of you who didn’t see it, an interesting overview of tagging from Wired (‘Folksonomies Tap People Power’):

“The job of tags isn’t to organize all the world’s information into tidy categories,” said Stewart Butterfield, one of Flickr’s co-founders. “It’s to add value to the giant piles of data that are already out there.”

The piece also quotes Thomas Vander Wal, coiner of the word ‘folksonomy’, as making a distinction between broad and narrow folksonomies, and how the two are unrelated:

In a broad folksonomy, Vander Wal continued, there is the benefit of the network effect and the power curve because so many people are involved. An example is the website of contemporary design magazine Moco Loco, to which 166 Delicious users had applied the tag “design.”

But 44 users had also assigned the URL the tag “architecture,” 28 “art,” 15 “furniture” and so on. That means that because so many people applied so many different tags to Moco Loco’s site, it could be located in a number of different ways.