Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time


Happy Wednesday! On this rather dreary day in Phoenix, I am poking away at my portfolio and wondering why it isn’t done. Half of the answer is that I have become unmotivated, distracted by other ongoing projects. The other half is that it has become significantly more involved than I originally anticipated.

Portico at the Jefferson Memorial

The Jefferson Memorial–From here it looks like the portico curves on forever

I believe the hangup is in the pictures. At first, this was a personal issue. I had to find little pictures to use for my icons, and so I delved into the endless pit that is Flickr. My perfectionism flares up slightly when choosing images, but I was sure that once I just picked one, I could get on with things.

Not quite: first I had to ensure that all my images had a generic CC-BY 2.0 license. I.e., the license that allows derivative works. Because step two was transforming rectangular photos into little buttons. I am using PicMonkey for this, because it has the tools I need and is relatively user-friendly. I could be using GIMP, but if I don’t need all the power and precision of full-on photo editing software, no sense in firing up the full-on photo editing software.

Add some time spent cropping and labeling, and the buttons are ready. But wait! How to attribute their original creators? Not in the alt tag, because that is suppressed, and even if it wasn’t I want the attribution present regardless of where my visitor’s mouse is hovering. Some authors have questioned the validity of Creative Commons licenses in the scholarly publishing sphere, but in the Flickersphere it has been wonderful. Yes, some of the details of each license are a bit hazy, but photographers have the choice to go with traditional copyright or open it up. They can also choose how much sharing they want to happen. Rather than my choice as a user being “OK usage” or “certain doom,” creators and users are now part of a conversation about appropriate usage.

First and foremost, appropriate usage needs appropriate citation. I was initially convinced that captions containing attribution information would solve my problem. Unfortunately, default captions are gray and do not come with as much padding as I would like. *pause to imagine little cartoon warriors, one labeled content and the other labeled appearance, dueling one another* Which means I now need to dig into the CSS.

In the end I will be quite pleased with getting the job done right, but currently I am a tad irked at myself for thinking that this amalgam of content, layout, and copyright was going to be the easy-peasy work of an afternoon. Ah well. It’s another thing to add to my portfolio.