On language, HTML, ethics and crediting copyright images

This is such a fun place!

My need: publish content which includes copyrighted images, where the image terms of use requires me to include credit to the copyright owner.

But I couldn’t find a standard HTML / CSS representation for this concept – associating a credit with an image (or any other resource).

Perhaps, much like language may shape thought, standard HTML have a role in shaping the ethics of the web?

The closest standard I’ve run into is rel=license, as documented by the microformat folks:

<a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/" rel="license">cc by 2.0</a>


However, as specified in the issues list for rel=license, it is a page-wide mechanism – it does not cover the use case where the license is associated with part of a page, such as an image or embedded object in the page, or a single news entry on a news page.

So unless there is already a standard of common practice for this, I will need to define my own representation for this.

The data needed for this is:

  • The image (or, more generically, the resource)
  • The credit text
  • Optionally, a link as required by the copyright owner

<img name="image1" src="image1.jpg">

<a idref="#image1" href="http://www.gettyimages.com/" rel="attribution">Image copyrighted (c) by Getty Images</a>

If the same copyright message applies to multiple images, idrefs can be used instead of idref.

Any thoughts on this?

If you know of standard representation for this use case that I may have missed, please let me know through a comment.

Exercising my right to walk away

further evidence

Dave Winer is a genius.

Seriously. Dave Winer is the person behind many of the technologies that shaped the web as we know it today – RSS, MetaWeblog API, XML-RPC, Podcasting. Even blogging.

Heck, Dave is one of the reasons I can write this post. His vision and technical leadership created true free speech and put the foundation for turning the web into a medium for conversation, and in the process helped shaped modern 21st century democracy.

Dave Winer is a person I’d rather not have a conversation with.

Here is a short collection from Dave’s recent posts to his Twitter:

What Israelis and many Americans have failed to understand that the children you are killing are just like your children

If you think that there is an argument you could make that would justify killing children, because there is no such argument

Israel can’t kill Palestinian civilians and pretend somehow they are right. What they’re doing is simply indefensible

And my favorite:

People ask what I would do if I were Israel. I don’t know. But: KILLING CHILDREN IS WRONG. If you don’t know that may god have mercy on you.

And so it goes on and on, with Dave composing short, bite-sized undeniable truths and hitting the post button.

I am not big on nationalism. I hate what’s happening right now. I hate the fact that the national group I am part of is inflicting pain, suffering and death on another group of people.

But being part of this group, and being also part of a larger group called Humanity, I know that when it comes to people (as opposed to, say, XML), simple black-and-white statements are more often than not wrong and serve nothing except adding fuel to the flames.

Simple black-and-white statements like this are often the weapon of tyrants or cult leaders, who feed on the perceived difference between the perceived black and the perceived white. They rarely if ever lead toward a solution.

Dave must have met a few Israelies in his life. It’d be impossible not to, given Israel’s contribution to tech (or science, arts, politics, finance, philosophy, free thinking, democracy, …) . And yet, from the safety of his living room, he feels compelled to educate the world in general and Israelis in particular that killing children is wrong.

In fact, Dave, that incredibly smart person, doesn’t seem to have the kind of smarts it takes to understand that not only Israelis know that killing children is wrong, but also killing children in the middle of a military operation which will succeed only if given enough time to remove certain grownups from the playing board is against Israel’s tactical interests.

Listening to Dave saying these things is frustrating for me. I could engage in a conversation with Dave and try to educate him back, but I have a feeling that this would be an equally frustrating experience and would not produce results. So instead, I am walking away from this conversation. I do not wish to participate in it even as a listener.

I am no longer following Dave on Twitter, FriendFeed, Flickr, etc. (If I missed a channel, feel free to let me know).

He was right about RPC-XML vs SOAP though :)

No tips and tricks here

As in

I participated yesterday in an interesting round table discussion set up by Carmel Ventures, titled "Traffic and Affiliation – tips and tricks".

Things I learned:

  1. I don’t know of any tips and tricks when it comes to traffic. Unless community, content, value, ecosystem and a solid partnership model are considered tricks.
  2. I dislike the word "traffic".
  3. I don’t understand why drug dealers don’t see the light – I believe they will find it much easier to fit in if they just use the right terminology. After all, all they do is funnel leads toward a landing experience that maximizes CTR while ensuring maximum retention.
  4. I hope I’ll never need to use some of the "tips and tricks" I did hear about.

Now, having established my moral superiority compared with everyone else, I actually did learn quite a lot.

I also came out with a few "conclusions" – which I am not really sure about…

  1. Using Affiliate Networks makes sense only when the lifetime value of a customer is relatively high
  2. "Acquiring traffic" through affiliate networks doesn’t make sense for most mass UGC services
  3. Freemium is what you do when you’re out of ideas for creating a sustainable business based on "free".

What’s your take on these?

Speaking of Free and Freemium, what’s the point of "Free Trial"? What kind of business insists on turning away its potential customers and leads after a set time period?

I cannot really think of any "Free Trial" product that won’t benefit a lot more from a freemium approach.

The Joy of Photojoy

Ofer Adler of IncrediMail showed me a demo of Photojoy many months ago, standing next to a tiny table, in one of these smoke-filled GarageGeeks nights. It was a running on a tiny laptop screen on a tiny table in a far corner of the area, but within seconds there was a small crowd around us, enjoying the demo, getting excited, making suggestions…

Photojoy is cool. It goes back to the basics: Wallpapers. Screen Savers. 1994-sort-of-stuff. Yes, Flickr is cool. Wow, Picasa is free, and gee, maybe one day Google will be able to search images. But what about the thousands of pictures that I have on my hard disk?

Photojoy is a fresh new way to enjoy pictures on your desktop. These pictures may be from your own personal collection, from Flickr, or from professional stock photography sources. Regardless of the source, Photojoy provides you with a “best practice” – a collection of dynamic wallpapers, smart screen savers and cool Vista Gadgets that enable you to enjoy these pictures like never before.

Try it. I think you will like it :)

I’d love to se Photojoy continue to grow, adding a thin social layer on top of it would be nice, leveraging my existing social graph. The simplest way to do would probably be adding to the Photo Library list of sources, which already includes “Photos on My Computer”, “Web Photos” and “Professional Photos”, a 4th source – “Photos from My Friends”, which would require me to provide my Flickr, Facebook, Bebo, AIM etc. IDs. Once you have that, there opportunities are endless.

I wish I could use the “Post a video of my Photojoy Wallpaper to Flickr” button to do this, but there isn’t any. So instead, imagine these images swing, rotate and change, because that’s what they really do on my home media center PC:

My PhotoJoy Wallpaper on Flickr

And because a lot of what’s cool about this is the fact is actually moves and interact, I thought it might make sense to include their demo video here. But it turns out their demo video isn’t embeddable. Luckily, FireBug to the rescue :)



OMG they killed lilly1975

A while ago I wrote about my (negative) experience with the Flickr moderation process. I guess I am not the only one uncomfortable with it – Thomas Hawk touched this topic several times (“Use a Swear Word in a Private Email at Flickr and You Get Your Account Deleted“, “Flickr = Censorship“).

And then I saw this “question” by Aya Rosen, aka lilly1975 on Flickr. But don’t click on the Flickr link, because there is nothing on the other side. Flickr closed Aya’s account.

Flickr  Photos from lilly1975

Full disclosure: Aya is a citizen on Yedda. She’s earned her citizenship long ago – she’s been a helpful, kind and knowledgeable citizen. She’s been helping lots and lots of people with her knowledge and yet down to earth candid answers.

And an even fuller disclosure: Aye is a personal friend. I know her to be an original, free thinking artist, and one of the sweetest, most candid, most kind-hearted person I know.

From Aya’s letter to Flickr:

Your site gave so much and by my account being deleted, took so much from me.

I’m thinking back on my photo stream and remembering so many important moments of my life, which the documentations and interactions of are now gone and all is left in my own memory.

How many web services out there have users that feel that strongly about them?

But Flickr is not the issue. We all do that. Bloggers approve or delete a comment on a whim. Digg promotes or hides news – news! – on an algorithmic whim. Even Google sends web sites and companies to stardom or oblivion due to an “Index Update”, aka The Google Dance.

And Yedda. Let’s not forget Yedda – the company I co-founded – which deletes questions & answers if they don’t adhere to our terms of use. Which, as much as we try, may sometime amount to no more than a whim.

Aya is right, she is “breaking the rules” and her not-a-question does not adhere to the Yedda terms of use, but there is no way we will delete it. Because respect to the people who made the community comes before terms of use.

The Knight News Challenge

Susan Mernit sent me info on the Knight News Challenge, and I thought it’d be useful to let more people know about it!

The Knight News Challenge is a US-based foundation giving away $5 million a year for grants in digital, open-source innovation (http://www.newschallenge.org).

The last day to submit applications for funding is November 1st, and you can get peer mentoring at http://garage.newschallenge.org.

Applications for the 2008-09 Knight News Challenge must follow three simple rules:
1. Use or create digital, open-source technology as the code base.
2. Serve the public interest.
3. Benefit one or more specific geographic communities

So go for it!

You May Or May Not Be Aware

Going the other way (by YanivG)

From: Flickr Support

Subject: “Marked as restricted”


Here we go again. Flickr restricted my photostream again (3rd time). No, they won’t say why.

There are 2,944 pictures on my Flickr photostream, 1,073 of them public and the rest are private (e.g. 1,073 pictures of my nephews and extended family that I’d rather bore only specific people with).

There are also 55 pictures on my photostream which contain nudity in one form or another. While I am not fully comfortable with this definition, all of these pictures most likely fall under what most people will define as “artistic nudes”. As far as I know, they are all properly flagged as safe, moderate or restricted, according to the Flickr community guidelines.

Now, go figure which of these 1,073 photos offended someone and why.

I do consider Flickr a community, and I do try to be a good citizen of this community. Because that’s the right thing to do.

But I when I am not wearing my amateur photographer hat, I am wearing my other hat, which is a designer of a community-based social experience, driven by people and the content they create.

We tend to think of the net, and specifically on the user-generated-content-Web2.0-social-pastel-colored crop of sites in it as an expression of democracy and free speech. I have a gnawing suspicion that what we’re in fact creating here is a “brave new world”-like tyranny.

An ever-growing part of our lives is carried online, on web sites that are free for users, but are actually paid for by companies, big and small. We create content, but this content actually resides on these companies web servers. And when they decide to remove this content, or close our account, or cancel our email access – effectively they eliminate our ability to express our opinions. They don’t need a court order, and there is really no one to appeal to – they (or is it “we”?) are completely within their rights, and after all, you did agree to the terms of use, right?

They call it “moderation”. I call it “moderation” too. I practice this on a daily basis. It’s legitimate, it’s lawful, and it’s necessary. No, I do not have a proposal for a viable alternative model. But there is something very wrong about this model, and I have a hunch that as an industry, we’re going to regret it and wish we were more responsible.

And my Flickr account? Oh, I will write them another email, asking to receive more detailed information on why was my account restricted so that I can fix whatever I did wrong unknowingly. And probably, like they did before, they will not respond but the restriction will be magically removed. And I will continue to pay Flickr the Pro fee, and generate page views and ad impressions for them.

But we *are* going to regret this model.

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Browser Neutrality

Google.com/chrome 404 screenshot

Google Chrome.

We all knew it might be coming, right?

I love the promise of this new browser.

Yes, the browser is indeed my desktop these days. Or is it my operating system? Whatever. It’s the computing environment where I spend most of my time, and I couldn’t wait for the browser vendors to fully realize that and provide me with a platform that understands and supports this.

I just wish it wasn’t Google who’d provide this.

Oh, I am sure they will do an amazing job. No one really groks browsers like Google. There is just one thing I am worried about:

We have an entire industry flourishing because creating good content is suddenly a viable way to generate revenues, because good content creates advertising opportunities. And the technology that started this revolution is obviously Google’s AdSense – we create the content and the advertising space, and they fill up the space with relevant ads.

But if Google controls the browser – the frame around my content – do they really need me to provide the space?

Oh, I don’t think they’ll be as blant as to create a “AdSense Sidebar” in the browser. But when you control the browser there are many subtle opportunities to skip that annoying rev-share thing and keep all that revenue to yourself.

So, is it time to update the definition of Net Neutrality to cover browsers as well?

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Options Paralysis

I found this amazing TED video of Barry Schwartz through Ayelet Noff’s post (thanks Ayelet!).

Yes, it’s long (as in > 2.8 minutes, which seems to be our average attention span these days). Yes, it’s worth it.

In a way, Barry’s brilliant words strongly resonate with some of the principles I’ve tried to follow over the years (and to each to others) when designing user experience for software products. I try to be careful when I offer the user a choice. I ask myself: am I offering them a choice because I’m being respectful to them, or because I am too lazy to make up my mind?

Joel Spolsky already said it:

Pull up the Tools | Options dialog box and you will see a history of arguments that the software designers had about the design of the product. Should we automatically open the last file that the user was working on? Yes! No! There is a two week debate, nobody wants to hurt anyone’s feelings, the programmer puts in an #ifdef in self defense while the designers fight it out. Eventually they just decide to make it an option.

(User Interface Design for Programmers, Chapter 3: Choices)

I learned this lesson again and again many times, though only once did I get to see just how bad it could get. It was about 10 years ago, when I had a brilliant computer science major working in my team. The guy could easily traverse red-black trees, design them O(1) algorithms, the works.

But one day, I was passing next to his cubicle, and I saw him staring at the screen in bewilderment. I looked at the screen, and there it was – a dialog box with a short message, and 3 dreadful choices – Yes? No? Or maybe Cancel?

I asked him what’s wrong. He looked at me with tearing eyes, and said in the saddest voice ever – “I think I am having Options Paralysis”.

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A Gadget Is A Forest

My GardenI have a theory. My theory is that a gadget is like a forest.

A forest with paths and clearings, hidden treasures and even monsters.

You see, I was trying to figure out what is it that keeps me (and a few others) so fascinated with gadgets. What is it about these shiny devices that makes you want to own them, use them, explore them…?

So, my current (rather shallow, I admit) theory is that a gadget is like a forest. A forest begging to be explored and mapped, promising adventure, hidden treasures and discoveries.

And that’s the thing. That’s why our (my?) fascination with so many gadgets winds down so quickly after we power them up for the first time. Powered up, explored and mapped, with its paths traced out, it treasures dug and adventures played out, the gadget no longer holds a fascination for us. And we’re ready to move on to the next shiny object.

If my theory is true, perhaps this will be useful to cure your desire for an iPhone:

The definitive iPhone user interface gallery