Brutal and Unforgiving

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Coyote
Image credit: farlane via Flickr

Audioboo recording: Coyote Fight

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Switching to vacation mode

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I’ll be in California till the end of the month, so I won’t be posting about tech stuff unless it has to do with photos I take or using the iPhone on the road. I’ll be experimenting with photo apps and I’ll try to share some of the results here. What is that thing in the photo above? That’s a donut shop and car wash. Classic SoCal.

Tracing the origin of online photos with TinEye

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 Photo credit: Mohammed Abed

I saw this photo on Reddit with the only description being a one-word thread title: “War.” The top commenter in the thread said it was a picture of an Israeli white phosphorous attack. I wanted to find out for myself rather than take an Internet commenter’s word as the truth. I ran the photo through TinEye, the image search engine, and got 90 results. Thankfully, one of the sources was The Telegraph newspaper in the U.K. The article highlighted compelling photography from 2009. This picture was taken in Gaza and was indeed documentation of an Israeli attack:

This photograph shows white phosphorous shells being fired by the Israeli military into a school building where civilians were sheltering in classrooms.

I mentioned TinEye in my previous post, but I wanted to highlight it here. No every search is successful. More often you will simply discover that a photo is all over the Internet. But in this example, I didn’t have to rely on an anonymous commenter. Also, I wasn’t checking the background because I had an interest in whether or not it involved Israel. I was curious because it is an incredible photograph.

How to avoid Internet regurgitation

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I complained yesterday about how the same “funny” images are endlessly recirculating on the Internet. Of course, that’s how a meme develops – the photo or whatever needs to be shared over and over. When something is reblogged on Tumblr hundreds or even thousands of times, that is part of what Tumblr is about and why it is so popular. Let me refine my argument by saying that we should strive for more variety. To that end I found the photo above on MlkShk (“milkshake”) yesterday and considered sharing it elsewhere. I’d never seen it before, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been posted and reblogged dozens of times. So I used a “reverse-image” search engine called TinEye. This is what I got back:

TinEye quickly found 120 instances were the photo was used already. Now here I am with 121. Fine, let everyone share and remix to their heart’s content. TinEye is a cool service that also can serve as a helpful analytical tool. Besides the website, there are TinEye browser plugins for Firefox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer. A TinEye Android app is in beta testing. Oh yeah, I also complained about being disappointed with MlkShk, which is a new image-sharing site in beta testing. I spent more time on the site and found the quality of material was much better than I encountered during my first survey. I’m also getting a better feel for how the site and community work. Request an invite and give it a spin.

The Internet is trying too hard

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 (Above) My unfunny attempt to modify the now-famous Situation Room photo.

I was going to write about how the news of Osama bin Laden’s death developed Sunday night on Twitter, especially since I happened to be browsing tweets when the first word of the “10:30 p.m.” announcement appeared. But Twitter has eliminated the time-stamp feature for tweets, so now I can’t figure out the exact sequence of events that night. I hope Twitter brings that feature back.

In the meantime, I want to complain about something: There are too many people trying to create Internet memes, including myself. On Monday, a photograph was posted on the White House Flickr account showing President Obama and others in the White House Situation room watching the bin Laden raid. Within an hour, altered versions of the image began showing up on the Internet. The first ones I saw featured the frowning flower girl from Friday’s royal wedding, a surprised cat, sad Keanu Reeves, and Rick Astley. In my opinion, none were particularly clever or funny. More

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