Sunday, June 25, 2006

Rocks, Art, and Photography on the web

Bo Cowgill, of Google's prediction Markets, asked if he could put the photos I had posted from a Prediction Market event up on Flickr. I had no problem with that, so some of them are now on flickr, presumably getting more exposure than they did on the CommerceNet site, where I originally posted them. (Notice who's missing in the set that Bo reposted?)

I was a little surprised to see that when I looked at Bo's posting of my pictures, that there weren't any tags evident, or any ability to add tags. I had thought that was the allure of Flickr, without ever using it myself. So I decided to try it out to see what the advantage is. (It turns out that you can tag your own pictures and others can see your tags. They just hadn't been tagged yet when I looked.)

I had some photos I'd been meaning to organize and post for a few weeks, so I used them as fodder. Janet and I were in Southern Utah a month ago, and spent some time looking at petroglyphs. We were directed (by someone at the BLM office ) to a good area west of town that had a lot of petroglyphs. When we got there, we found out that there were two groups of students from BYU, one surveying and cataloging petroglyphs, and the other excavating an ancient Indian settlement. The ones studying the petroglyphs had marked all the art they had found with little flags, making it much easier to find the often subtle art.

We also spent a while talking to the grad student leading the dig. They had found a large circle of dwellings, and said that they were surprised that the individual buildings were circular. Apparently when the Indians in that area first started grouping buildings together, the buildings maintained the round outlines they had when they had previously been built as separate dwellings, but over time, the residents had learned to square up the corners in order to fit them together more tightly. The archeologists had expected this to be a later settlement, and were surprised at the circular outlines.

Then a week ago, we were in Southern Oregon, and dropped back into California to visit Lava Beds National Monument. Crawling around in the lava tubes was a blast! We've been in a few commercial caves before, so it was a different experience to be able to wander around on our own. Anyway, this is relevant because Lava Beds has a separate section of the park called Petroglyph point. The petroglyphs here aren't nearly as interesting as those we saw in Utah. It's all very abstract, and quite worn. The brochure spends 6 pages to say "we don't know who did it, we don't know why, we don't know what it means."

Anyway, to get back to the photos, here's my Flickr slideshow on Petroglyphs. How does it compare to what I've done in the past, with only a little more work?

As far as I can see, Flickr is good for sharing and finding, but if you have a place to store pictures already, and you want to arrange their display so people will be able to look at your collection of pictures the way you want to arrange them (if you want to tell a story), there's no advantage. Flickr certainly makes it possible to display a collection of pictures, but they appear in Flickr's arrangements, mostly without commentary, or in ad hoc collections out of context. I can see why this is useful, but I'm probably going to stick to my ideosyncratic presentations

BTW, I haven't given many details on where we were in Utah, because I noticed this article about vandalism while finding the BYU anthropology department. I recognize the rock in their photo. The article came out about a week before we were there.


Mike Linksvayer said...

One may allow other users to add tags to one's images via an account setting.

Chris Hibbert said...

Thanks, Mike. I changed my settings.