Monthly Archives: June 2006

No Photo Day

Becca Bland is promoting a non-photography day for 17 July. I can appreciate the point she is promoting. Many people spend an entire holiday behind the lens of a camera or video recorder. Maybe they can watch it later to find out out if they had a good time.

I don’t think that having a specific day is appropriate though. Each day has a specific meaning for individuals and different needs for capturing the moment. You can’t ask somebody not to take photos on their wedding day or in a place they may only visit once.

I think she is right though, the hasty reach for the camera can disrupt the moment, particularly a landscape or the feeling of an event.

Thomas hawk is right

I'm glad Thomas Hawk raised this issue about Jill Greenberg. No matter what the cause, it is not right to manipulate children's emotions in such a way.

The general outline is that Jill is a photographer who decided that she wanted to take pictures of children crying to illustrate her opinion of the Bush administration. Rather than observe and capture natural situations in which this might occur, she created the situation by making the children cry.

From some of the comments on Thomas's post, it seems there are many people who don't seem to see what is wrong (fortunately there are plenty who do). Sometimes we look back at attitudes of only a few years ago and are amazed at what we thought was OK. I hope that this will be one of those cases.

For those that don't see the problem with manipulating children's emotions, then review the psychological experiment of J B Watson and little Albert. The poor child was conditioned to fear a toy rat. This kind of experiment is no longer ethically acceptable and is more extreme than the actions of Jill Greenberg, but it illustrates why you shouldn't mess around with children's emotions – it can stick.

Capturing the range of human emotion may be considered artistic but I think it loses all meaning when the one who is capturing it is the one who is causing it.

Can language define your thoughts?

I was reading 1984 by George Orwell recently, and one of the ideas was the creation of Newspeak. This was a form of language that limited the number of words available and reduced the possible meanings of words. The aim of this was to limit the scope of thought to "acceptable" ideas. You could not communicate the concept of freedom if there were no words to convey the idea. See the newspeakdictionary for more about this and the rest of the book.

Is it possible that your vocabulary or your use of language can limit what you think about? It would clearly have an effect on your ability to communicate your thoughts. How many times have you read something and said "I know that feeling but just didn't know how to express it"? So maybe that is evidence that language does not limit thought, only the communication of that thought.

Builders & doers, whiners & trolls

Just catching up on my feed list and read this article on Thinkvitamin. Dividing people into 2 categories and summing them up as positive or negative. Either looking for opportunity and getting on with it or finding problems and reasons not to do something.

It has provoked a lot of comment as would be expected with such a statement, particularly from those who point out that you can't contradict this as you would be considered a troll (very true).

I think Ryan makes a valid point though. If you can try to keep on the positive side you are more liklely to get something done. He also acknowledges that we all have a bit of both in us, and it is important to have the occasional negative as it is often the catalyst for progression. 

How to start a blog

Browsing around Phillip J. Eby's blog, I noticed that his first post summed up the best approach to starting a blog. What you start with is not what you want it to be. So, don't wait to figure out exactly what you will talk about, how the site will look etc, just start with something. You rarely know what you want (or don't want) until you have some kind of experience. 

I have seen plenty of starter advice suggesting  much planning and consideration, and this is very valid if you already have experience or a concept. But if you don't, then don't wait for it to happen.

It looks like Phillip has quite a few interesting thoughts on the site, so I'll be spending some time reading there. Thanks Phillip.

I’ll do it later

I was about to post so many times over the last few days, but either something else caught my attention or somebody came round to talk to me.

One of the distractions was a post about procrastination on Strange Attractor. I think they used the wrong CSS, so you need to scroll down to find the post. I can’t remember how I got there, just the usual look for one thing and find yourself following a completely different trail. A classic example of the subject of the article. The author, Suw Charman quotes another post by Phillip Eby who pinpoints that a key cause of procrastination is fear of doing something wrong. It may be an obvious reason and easy to sit back and say “well just start it and don’t worry”, but these kind of things lurk in your head with an amazing ability to keep you distracted.

I think I often put off posting as I always think I can make it better if I wait, and do I want some dumb comment hanging around for everyone to see.

The article is worth a read and suggests making blocks of time with rewards at the end and without enforcing big goals (the goal is the time limit). I must make a resolution to just post and not worry about it. Maybe time to add it to 43things;-).

Who reads your email?

I was about to say that I find this article on Reuters quite surprising. It suggests that many large companies employ people to read outgoing email to ensure that there is nothing that could harm their reputation. It’s not actually surprising and has been happening in most heavily regulated companies for years.

I think it’s just the sensationalism, jumping on the back of the growing wave of privacy concerns. It’s easy to get caught up, but the idea that an organisation could employ a sufficient number of people to filter a significant proportion of email is absurd. However, organisations have been filtering email and reviewing potentially harmful content for many years. This does not mean that they are “reading” everything.

I was putting in email filtering systems for a company I worked at nearly 10 years ago. The filter used a system of points for key words. If an email went above the trip figure (e.g. 3 keywords totaling 10 points) then you could quarantine it for checking, or if it was so obviously dangerous then you could bounce it back to the sender with an appropriate message.

This is a necessary part of managing internet services for a corporate entity. For example, a company advisor may suggest the projected rate of return on a particular investment but they should not guarantee a return. If an advisor were to send a message to a client that included the word guarantee then it may be quarantined for review or returned to the sender to amend. Not doing this could mean that the company is not taking appropriate precautions to protect it customers, employees (from mistakes) and it’s reputation.

This might sound like big brother type snooping, but a corporate email service is owned by that corporate body and it has a right to scan data transmitted through it. Many companies allow some level of personal use but will disclose in their usage policy that the content is scanned.

Finding that Internet Service Providers are doing this for consumer services would be of greater concern. You are not sending email in their name, and many will have separate domain names (.net and .com) for employees and public services.

Filtering of email by consumer ISPs may also imply a responsibility for the content of that email. If you read something and let it through, are you approving it? I wonder if we will see a test case for Googlemail and their context sensitive advertising or if they have resolved this already.