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Red Doors

Flickr of Hope

So the big news in my corner of the Internet on Friday was indie photo site SmugMug buying Flickr from corporate bohemeth Yahoo/Oauth (or whatever). You can probably tell by my framing how I feel about it. I'm hopeful!

I posted my first photo to Flickr on August 18, 2004: luna in her office bed. (This was back when the founders would comment on new photos!) I wrote little hacks for Flickr like Add Camera Images to Flickr. And a year after that first photo I was co-writing a book about Flickr that was released a few months later. I was all-in on Flickr and it was central to my online life.

But all was not well in the Flickrverse and I became more and more disappointed with what Yahoo! was doing with the service. A year after Flickr Hacks came out I started writing here about ways to move off of Flickr and back to hosting my own images: Going Off the Flickr Grid. My personal photo site/Flickr clone lived from 2007-2010 or so at photos.onfocus.com. (I posted what I thought would be my final photo to Flickr, here on March 14, 2007: 301_moved.)

After that initial burst of off-the-grid activity, my personal photo blog features couldn't compare with the upload, album, and sharing features available at Flickr. I didn't have time to scale up my site so I continued posting to Flickr—especially when I wanted to share a collection of photos. I was disappointed with myself for not living up to my online ideals. (This is a constant life theme!)

Anyway, all of this is just to say that my relationship with Flickr is complicated. I know my mixed feelings are nothing compared with the folks who were inside building Flickr and I hope their story gets told. I'd love to know why Flickr missed the mobile revolution and today we have Instagram influencers instead of Flickr luminaries (or whatever). I think this acquisition (is it? More details please!) is a great chance to revive the good parts of Flickr—especially its sense of community where Flickr started.

Philosophize This

I stumbled on this great podcast about philosophy that you should check out if you also like things such as philosophy and podcasts. (I didn't so much stumble on it as Spotify's recommendation algorithm put it in my path and then I stumbled on it.)

Each episode is about 20 minutes of host Stephen West walking us through some problems that philosophers have tackled through years. For example, are we condemned to be free as Sartre thought or are we limited by the structure of our cultural mythologies as Barthes thought? If you need a place to start, you can't go wrong with his look at Simone De Beauvoir's The Ethics of Ambiguity. West has a real knack for making dense, often technical philosophical ideas accessible.

When the prescription for fixing our dystopian techno-hellscape is often adding more humanity, I think it's worthwhile to take some time to think about what it means to be human. Philosophize This is an entertaining way to see how that question has been answered in many radically different ways.

podcast logo
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Barn Cat
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Hello Oregon
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stairs
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Hello Seattle

Saturday Links

I have about 30 articles related to the Facebook Trainwreck bookmarked but I'm going to skip them this week. (I don't have to tell you things are bad — everybody knows things are bad.) Instead, here are some other links:

I have watched this video about aluminum cans a few times over the last week or so and I keep sharing it with people in person. It has five million views on YouTube so I'm not alone. I think it's so fascinating because we are alienated from many of the things around us and this video undoes a small piece of that:

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Corvallis Corner
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Stopped Motion
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Belt Dressing
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Shop Light
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Radio

Sunday Links

So many links, friends. Don't read them all in one sitting. Check the videos at the bottom for a mental chaser or just skip ahead to that.
Read These First
Facebook Trainwreck
Social Media
Etc.

The best thing from last week was this Travel Oregon video in the style of Studio Ghibli:

After that, watch actual Studio Ghibli background artist Kazuo Oga paint:

Saturday Links

Some weekend reads culled from soc meeds:

Sunday Links

I have a whole series of enlightening yet depressing news stories to share with you this week, but I'm going to try not to share them. Instead:
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Flags

Saturday Links

Read This First
Web Dev
Etc.
Social Media
Merlin linked to this Behind the Music (?) segment about 10cc's Not in Love and it's great. They did this before digital music editing!

Dave Rawlings Machine

They're the best:



There are a few more videos and an interview at WFUV: David Rawlings: 2018. West Coasters, see them live now. I've seen them several times and it's always an amazing show.

Saturday Links

Lots of dystopian links for some light weekend reading!
Soc Meeds
Phones
DIY
Etc

Sunday Links

Some links for your consideration:

One Year at Oregon State University

It was just about a year ago that I posted about a new job at Oregon State Unversity Ecampus. It's a good time to stop and reflect on where I'm at. Apparently Ecampus thought so too because they did a a quick "getting to know you" interview with me: Getting to know Paul Bausch.

image: pb at Ecampus

The interview was a nice opportunity to think about my first year and taking photos for the article with the transparent whiteboard (clearboard?) was fun. I'm enjoying my work at Oregon State and I feel like my employer is making positive contributions to society. You can't ask for more than that.

Tweet Skimmer

I'm on day 17 of my Twitter fast and I do feel like I'm missing things. I'd like to be able to see what's happening with friends and co-workers without feeling like I'm walking into a kaleidoscope at a circus in the middle of a casino. At one time tweets were just text. Now tweets have embedded video gifs with talismanic viral numbers attached to commentary from dozens of people I don't want to hear from. I feel like I have to wade through 85% garbage to get that 15% I'm missing.

I think I can solve the circus-casino problem™ by removing the tweets from their toxic native environment and displaying them as text-only in my archaic feed reader. And that's what I've done.

Here is tweet-skimmer. It's a node.js script I'm using that gets a user's tweets from the Twitter API and creates an RSS feed without retweets or replies. By the time the tweets hit my feed reader, they are plain text with no media embeds, no images, no kaleidoscopic bears riding tricycles, no favorite counts, and no surrounding Twitter UI.

After testing for two full days I think this will allow me to batch tweet-reading into something I can skim every so often. That way I'll feel like I'm staying up to date with specific people without picking up the daily Twitter habit again.

The metaphor I've been using lately to describe this is that my Twitter habit is like having junk food in the house. I'm sure it would be no problem to have unlimited Doritos™ if I only ever ate 15% of each bag. It just never works out that way. So I'm hoping this new bit of scripting is like only buying 15% in the first place. It's digital portion control. Fun sized tweets.

This.

If I was still on Twitter I'd link to this article by Joel Spolsky with the text, "This." Instead, I'll say that Joel describes the Twitter and Facebook addiction problem better than I've been able to: Birdcage liners.

For a look at the mechanics behind intermittent reinforcement that Joel describes there's a book called Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products. It's as gross as it sounds. However, it does help you look at the products you use in a new, harsher light. I'd use the book as a digital literacy exercise rather than a how-to manual as it's intended.

Sunday Links

Here are some links to check out: