Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Category archive: Social Media

Wednesday June 21 2017

One of the many aspects of the horrible Grenfell Tower fire that makes it such a compelling news story is that the scene of the crime (which is what most now assume it to be) is so very, very visible.  This is not the kind of horror that can be sealed off by the police and hidden from view.  There it is, in all its photogenic horror, and there it will remain for quite some while yet.

Yesterday I lunched with GodDaughter 2.  She has been allowed no time to recover from her recital (the pizza in yesterday’s posting was consumed just after that happened), but instead has been plunged into rehearsals for this showVery hot, apparently.  Lots of stage lighting, and lots of standing around, as is the way with complicated rehearsals.  I, meanwhile, was also nearly immobilised by the heat, and just wanted to get home again and be truly immobile.  So, we spent less time together than we would have had the heat been less hot.

imageBut she did show me this photo, on the right there, which was taken by a friend of hers and along with a million other such photos, has been circulating on social media.  This particular photo was taken (I think I have this right) after the fire had erupted, and then been turned entirely black and dormant by the firemen.  But then, the fire got back into business, nearly a day later.  And I bet the heat made a difference to that too.

As for the politics of this, I don’t think Mrs May will recover from the bad press she has had as a result of this disaster.  (GD2 was very eloquent about that.) But my hope is that the Corbynistas are overplaying their hand.  People, says John McDonnell, have a right to be angry.  Of course they do.  But if too many of the people being angry are thought to be politicos who are merely pretending to be angry but who are really having the time of their lives, the Corbyn project might suffer.  I’m sure the Corvbyn high-ups are aware of this danger, but knowing what is happening with something is not the same as necessarily being able to stop it.  (Ask any fireman.)

In general I hope that what I heard Matthew Parris saying on the television on the night of the election is right, to the effect that the Corbyn phenomenon will now be subjected to the sort of serious critical scrutiny by the voters which last time around they bestowed only upon Mrs May.

Tuesday June 20 2017

Why do people get so angry about other people who photo their food before eating it?

Here is a pizza that I photoed, before eating it, when we all went out to dinner following GD2’s end of third year singing recital:

image

And very tasty it was too.  Thank you Da Mario‘s, if that’s how you say it.

Does the very thought of me taking the above photo, in a restaurant, annoy you?  Why?  Seriously, why?  By this I don’t mean: stop feeling annoyed you fool.  By why I mean why.  What is this feeling?

I’m not sure I can prove it, but I am rather sure that a similarly small but definite spasm of annoyance is felt when the same people who disapprove of food photoing observe other photoers using selfie sticks.

Yes, I think I have it.  What food photoing and selfie sticks have in common, beyond the obvious fact that both involve photoing, is that both practices are very visible.  If they bother you, they are hard to ignore, like a slight but irregular noise when you are trying to get to sleep, or people shouting near you in an already noisy (but predictably so and thus ignorably so) tube train.

The fact of these practices being so visible is what amplifies the annoyance.

Getting back to that food photoing thing in particular, why be annoyed?

Could it be that photography has now become something very different in recent years, but that some people need to do some catching up?  The marginal cost of the next photo you take is now: zero.  The marginal cost of the next phone communication you send: also zero.  So, taking and sending a photo of what you are about to eat is of no more consequence than just telling someone you are about to consume a rather good pizza, over the phone, with mere words.  A pizza photo says, quickly, what is in it, what sort of pizza it is, how big, and so forth, just as you might if you were talking about it.  A photo thrown into the conversation is just illustrated chit-chat.

But photography, traditionally, has tended to be a much more slow, solemn and artistic and expensive thing.  And the more artistic and cultured you are, or think that you are, the more you will know this.  Do these damn people think that every damn food photo they commit and emit is some sort of eighteenth century Dutch still life painting?

Well, it kind of is, or kind of can be.  But basically, no.  If you think they think this, you’ll think them very silly.  But, they don’t think this.  What they are doing is not Big Art, even if at its best casual photoing can resemble Big Art.  What they are doing with their food photos is small talk.

Could that be something to do with it?

Also in play are the more ignoble feelings aroused by others (a) enjoying themselves (b) not caring who knows it, and (c) not caring, in particular, about you and any moans you might have about what they are doing and how they are drawing attention to themselves.  You just know that if you said to them: Excuse me, would you mind not doing that? - they’d say something along the lines of: yes we would mind not doing that, get stuffed.  Eat you own damn food and stop complaining about us photoing ours, you idiot.  And they’d be right.  And you’d know it.

Tuesday June 06 2017

Incoming from Simon Gibbs, in the form of an email, containing all the necessary links, entitled:

Michal Huniewicz combines drone, very good camera & photography, and a bit of Photoshop

He does indeed.

At the Michal Huniewicz Twitter place, I started scrolling down, and (of course) stopped when I got to this, posted on March 15th of this year:

image

Bigger here.

Yes, it’s the London Gateway, on or just before March 15th.  When I visited London Gateway in 2015 there were only five cranes.  Now look at it.  Still not the complete set according to my calculations, but well on the way to that.

Here is another shot, also (I assume) contrived by Michal Huniewicz, of LG in action, from directly above:

image

Personally I am not fond of that Photoshop Look, which boosts the contrast of everything to a wildly unrealistic degree, butchering mere landscapes into a state of kitschified unwatchability.  Huniewicz doesn’t unleash this kind of ugliness very much, but, as Simon’s email hints, he does this a bit, and his landscape photos suffer, I think.  But cranes are visually strong enough to survive this kind of falsification with ease.  Their essence, which is structure rather than mere colour and colour contrast, shines through.  And actually, Huniewics doesn’t Photoshop around with his crane pictures, or not so you notice.  They look to me much as they came out of the camera.  Or maybe it’s just that when painted boxes are made to look brighter it looks no more like a crap picture on a Scottish biscuit tin than it did before.

Friday March 03 2017

I am reading everything at the Scott Adams blog just now, and I even watched/listened (new word needed for that) to all of this video.

Adams is being “shadow banned” by Twitter, as he notes in this posting:

As many others have documented, Twitter throttles back the tweets of people who hold political views they don’t like.

What “throttles back” means is that you can still read it, but nobody else can.  I think.

To outwit this shadow banning, Scott Adams has devised a cunning plan involving kittens, which I absolutely do not understand the details of, but which he mentions several times during the above-linked-to video ramble.  (It’s a good ramble, but a ramble.) Whenever he writes about things that Twitter’s censorship committee disapproves of him writing about (Trump and the climate debate being the two big ones at present), he tweets instead that he has done a piece about kittens.  This will alert his followers to a posting that Twitter wants crushed.  In order to shadow ban this, Twitter would have to shadow ban all kittens which would break the internet, and all humans also because they would be laughing so much.  Or something.  I don’t see why Twitter can’t just shadow ban Scott Adams whenever he mentions kittens, along with whenever he mentions Trump or mentions the climate debate.  But what do I know?

New word: outweet.

I always knew, when I started Friday-blogging about cats and kittens here, that this topic would become highly significant from time to time, on account (for instance) of politicians being jealous of all the attention that cats and kittens were getting.  (Prediction: at some point during the next thousand years or so, climate permitting, a cat or kitten will be elected President of the United States.)

But this particular Scott Adams kitten-tweeting circumstance I did not see coming.

Friday November 11 2016
Wednesday November 09 2016

I’m half way through another photo-posting but it’s taking too long, so here in the meantime is a link to a Trump victory piece I did this morning, at stupid o’clock, a time of day I rather like the sound of.

I like a Rob Fisher comment at Samizdata, attached to this posting, about the anti-Trump Twitter-rage that is now in full broil:

It’s certainly hilarious on Twitter already. They’ve created a caricature monster in their heads and they believe it and they’re wetting the bed over it 140 characters at a time.

Next step for these bed wetters, scour America for hate criminals, who think that they’re entitled now that Trump has won.  And they’ll find a few.

What the bed-wetting scourers won’t understand is that they will have helped to cause such hate crimes.  If you say that a Trump victory is a victory for racism, and then Trump wins, you are telling the racists that they have won, and can now ramp up their racism, without any longer being punished.  I’m not just saying this for the sake of an amusing blog posting, This will actually happen.  It probably already is happening.

See also: Brexit.

LATER: A collector’s item.

Thursday October 27 2016

It’s for lots of other things, for other people, like: a telly.  But that is definitely one of the things that the internet is, for me.

Whenever a new kind of information storage or information transmission comes along, people fret that it will replace all the previous ones.  And the others, which when they started were things that people fretted about, become good for you.  When reading by the masses got started, there was concern that the masses were doing too much of it, getting addicted to it, enjoying it too much.  Dear oh dear, can’t have that.  But then telly came along, and reading suddenly became good for you.  Telly was the thing that people were enjoying too much, wasting their lives on, etc. etc.

And now that the internet is here, you even hear people moaning that Young People These Days don’t spend enough time watching telly, because they are, you’ve guessed it, addicted to their smartphones (on which they watch telly).

My own feeling is that Young People These Days spend far more time than is good for them gadding about in the open air and watching tiny screens and not enough time sitting at home watching proper telly and proper computer screens, big enough to see what’s going on, the way God and Nature intended.  But that’s a feeling, based entirely on which exact generation I happen to be a member of, not a real opinion.  Young People These Days, as always, have better eyesight than oldies like me, and, unlike me now, they like to get out and have fun.  When I was a (moderately) YPTD, I loved small screens, like the one on the Osborne.  (Look it up.  Another thing the internet is is a machine for telling you things like what an Osborne was.)

The thing is, new methods of information storage or information transmission typically give the old ones a new lease of life, rather than the kiss of death, at any rate at first and often for ever.  Printing didn’t stop people talking to each other, it gave them interesting things to talk about.  Trains caused a surge in horse transport, to get people to and from the station.  The telly adapts books into telly-dramas, and people buy the books to find out what’s going on and who these people all are.  Telephones, email and now smartphones make it easier to organise face-to-face meetings.  The first big internet business sold books.  And lots of telly shows now consist of bits from the internet, for those who like telly.

And now, for me, one of the most useful uses of the internet is enabling me to keep track of what’s on the regular old telly.  Recently, for instance, I recorded a whole stash of Columbo episodes onto DVD.  But, which episodes were they and what order should they go on the DVD in?  The Radio Times only tells you so much?  How many Columbo episodes were there?  Who else besides Columbo himself was in them?  Step forward, the internet, to tell me all about that.

See also this other blog posting that I just did, in which, among other things, I give a plug to a face-to-face meeting that I will be hosting tomorrow evening.

Thursday September 08 2016

I’ve visited the top of the Tate Modern Extension several times in recent weeks, so this story particularly entertained me:

Tate Modern visitors accused of spying on Neo Bankside residents

Here’s the story:

Residents of the Rogers Stirk Harbour-designed Neo Bankside apartments have threatened legal action, after Tate Modern opened an observation deck that provides views into their private apartments.

The 360-degree rooftop viewing deck is one of the headline features of the Switch House – the 64.5-metre-high Tate Modern gallery extension by Herzog & de Meuron, which opened to the public in June.

But residents of the adjacent apartment complex have claimed that gallery visitors are using zoom-lens cameras and binoculars to peer inside their glass-walled homes and take photographs.

Having failed to reach a solution with Tate, the homeowners are now seeking legal action to regain their privacy.

I was particularly diverted by this bit:

So far the only change has been the addition of a sign asking Tate visitors to be more considerate.

Dezeen does not show any picture of this sign, but here, I can, because I photoed it several weeks ago:

image

I remember thinking at the time that this is almost contemptuously perfunctory.  I’m not surprised that it failed to subdue the snoopers

I believe that, as London gets more and more interesting, and full of more and more intriguing Big Things, there will be more and more such viewing platforms like this one at Tate Modern.  So, this problem of what you can see from such platforms that people don’t want you to see isn’t going to go away.

And the problem gets far worse when you consider that zoom lenses are only going to get ever more powerful.  I often joke here that my camera has better eyesight than I do, and it’s true.  But pretty soon, all cameras will have better eyesight than everyone.

It could be that about half of this particular viewing platform will be shut down, in which case, I need to make sure now that I have seen everything from that part of it that I can, before this happens.

I’d prefer the other idea, which is that these people living in glass houses should have one way mirrors installed, so they can see out but the rest of us can’t see in.  But then, expect the internet to be awash with before/after photos.

Thursday June 23 2016

First, this, which was the graphic on the front page of today’s pro-Remain Daily Mirror, and reproduced at Samizdata, which Natalie Solent reckons sends a somewhat ambiguous message.  I agree.  Because REMAIN is in the biggest letters, it looks like it could be saying that if you vote REMAIN, you’ll be sucked into a black hole.  As you will, by the way, if enough people do this. This is indeed the fate that awaits us all, in the event of a REMAIN victory.  One of the reasons why this graphic only works when misunderstood, is that when misunderstood, it becomes true!

image

The thing is, the EU is a lot nearer to being like a black hole than us leaving the EU is.  For that message, they needed something more like an endless desert, or a huge tundra, or maybe some grim maritime scene, doom-laden as far as they eye can see.

imageThe enormity of this decision is, I feel, appropriately reflected in the deranged graphics which occurred when this picture got loaded up.  Samizdata usually centres pictures automatically, and also makes them smaller automatically, if they need to be smaller.  That doesn’t seem to be happening at the moment.

In the comment thread on that posting, I mentioned that it was raining.  Which it was, torrentially.  But alas, it soon cleared up, thereby not dampening down the London (= Remain) vote as much it might have if it had rained with less violence but greater steadiness.  I mean, they even managed to have a shortened game of cricket at Lord’s, after the rain had stopped.

And on the right there, Elizabeth Hurley, who will have voted Leave by now, that being the picture she Twittered yesterday along with her support for Leave.  There she stands, wearing only high-healed sandals and a Union Jack cushion, or that’s how it looks.  Thankyou Guido.  She was probably right that this would get noticed, and would aid the cause she favours.  But I bet the Leavers have been circulating their own interpretations of this rather odd picture.  Is the picture recent, I wonder, or does it date from way back?

At least it is upbeat and optimistic in atmosphere, unlike that black hole.

Sunday June 12 2016

Photoed by me yesterday, in Lower Marsh:

image

How soon before you will be able to take a smartphone photo of such a vehicle, and then, on your screen, press on the Twitter or Facebook squares, or on the website, and get there.  Presumably, with that squiggly square, you can already do something like this.

That would certainly be an “intelligent advertising” improvement on what I have heard threats of, which is that adverts will change when they see you coming, to something they believe you are interested in.  But I don’t believe that will happen any time soon, because how would you stop other people seeing what the advert thinks you are interested in?  Leaving it up to you to investigate further, if you want to, will be much more civilised.

Wednesday June 08 2016

I love to write about digital photography, and have been tracking the selfie phenomenon since long before the mere word was invented, way back in the days when I referred to digital photographers as Billion Monkeys (which I don’t anymore (because some people thought I meant Muslims)).  (But also way back in the days when I didn’t worry about showing the faces of strangers, the way I worry now.) And I also enjoy often public sculpture, especially of the more recent and less abstract sort.

So, I love this:

image

There have been complaints, of course, such as from all the commenters there at the Daily Mail.  God forbid that vulgar people should find this vulgar statue so much fun.  Sculpture is Art, and Art isn’t supposed to be amusing.

One of the Daily Mail’s other photos is of bloke photoing himself with his own mobile, in front of the selfie statue.  But I prefer the more subtle response that consists of simply being photoed joining in, thus:

image

For once, the statueness, so to speak, of the statue, the fact that it is made of monochrome metal rather than realistically painted to look like real people, works really well, because it contrasts so nicely with the real people.  It helps that it seems to be exactly life size.

One of the idiot grumpy commenters at the Daily Mail said that Sugar Land is a stupid name and they were obviously desperate for some attention, which they have never had until now.  But wasn’t there a Goldie Hawn movie called The Sugarland Express, or some such thing?  Yes there was.  Early Spielberg.  But, is Sugar Land the same as Sugarland?

According to a later Daily Mail report, it isn’t only their grumpy commentariat that objects to this statue.  Could this be because a lot of people heard about this story partly through the Daily Mail, and those people being the sort that hears about things via the Daily Mail, immediately started objecting, because they object to everything.  Whereas, the ones who liked it hadn’t heard about it so much.

I first found about the statue via Amusing Planet, so of course I was already self-identified as the sort who would be amused.  It was just that the Daily Mail had better pictures.

Saturday June 04 2016

Well, not quite a decade.  I’ve been photoing photoers since well before this, but the first of these particular snaps was taken in July 2007.  They illustrate that I have been concerning myself with the photoing of photoers while contriving, in one way or another, not to photo their faces, for a long while now.  When I started taking photos of photoers, face recognition was a mere idea, used by implausibly attractive detectives on the telly but not yet a real thing in the real world.  Now, with the social media and ubiquitous digital photography, faces (not just big faces but faces in crowds) can be dated and placed and identified, of everyone, and very soon by everyone.

I just picked out a few photos that I like (although, it soon became a bit more than a few).  I like them because the pose is fun (6.2, 6.4), or because they’re strongly back-lit (1.1, 3.4), or because the screen is so clearly visible (6.1), or because the faces of photoers are hidden by bubbles (7.3), or by a coat (7.1), or by an orange bag with the Eiffel Tower on it (that one is the one snap of these that was not taken in London (that’s Paris, Feb 2012)), or because they’re photoing through some bars (in this case at the top of the Monument (1.3)), or because they were just too far away (in one of the pods of The Wheel and on the other side of the river (5.3)), or because they are simply facing the other way or holding their cameras (or their arms or their hands holding their cameras (1,2, 1.4, 4.1, 4.3, 5.1, 6.4, 7.2, 8.1, 8.2, 8.3, 8.4)) in front of their faces.  My favourite face-blocking device here is the blue balloon (2.1) saying visit Mexico.  The balloon goes very nicely with the Testicle (click and look on the blue square below if you are baffled).  Happy times:

imageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimage

The most recent of these was taken when I was photoing that model of the City of London (8.4).  Someone else was also.

After assembling these thirty two snaps, I did more browsing, and I soon realised that I could easily have found another thirty two more, and more, many more, of equal fun-ness.

Like with everything else, good photography comes from doing the same thing again and again.

Monday May 30 2016

As nudged by Simon Gibbs yesterday, I did indeed make my way to Trafalgar Square to check out Kenny and his Brexit chalk-proclamation.

The photos I sent to Libertarian Home yesterday evening were strictly utilitarian, to tell LH exactly what Kenny had written.  Read the entire thing there.

Here, on the other hand, are some pictures which give more of an idea of how it looked, what the atmosphere was, and what Kenny himself looks like:

imageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimage

The atmosphere was low-key, actually. There were no scenes or arguments, although I did hear the occasional “not going to read it all because it says Out”, as people walked away.  Others, however, did stop and read.  Most significant, I would guess, were those with mobile phones who were, unlike me, maybe passing it on with twenty-first century immediacy.  (I had to wait until I got home before I could send off my photos.)

I had to wait a while for Kenny to finish his efforts.  I got there before 3pm, and it wasn’t until just after 5pm that he was done.  And he started at 10am.

But it was worth the wait, and there was plenty else in Trafalgar Square to divert me, and to take photos of.  But photos like that can wait.  First things first, and that means Kenny.

Sunday April 03 2016

Incoming from Darren (to whom thanks also for various recent comments):

image

Saw this White Van story and thought of you.

Outstanding.

The artist, known only as Mr Konjusha is 22 and from east London.

His work has been spotted at various locations since he started drawing on the vehicles about three weeks ago. He said he had worked on 10 vans so far.

I think the whiteness of White Vans is all part of their appeal.  If they are white and clean, they look really clean.  If they are white a dirty, they look really dirty.

But if they are white and dirty, but if the dirt has been turned into art, what are they then?

Once again we have here an art form which is greatly encouraged by cheap digital photography.  Would Mr Konjusha be so inclined to exert himself thus, were it not possible for his efforts to be quickly and easily recorded and equally easily shared with an admiring public?

Judging by what he says about how he was trying to put a smile on delivery drivers’ faces, he started doing this just for a bit of fun.  But if he likes the fame and the attention he is now getting, he’ll perhaps continue for a while, more than he would have done in the previous century.  Maybe, thanks to all the attention, his next job will be in advertising.

What’s the betting someone turns this dirty art into something that will actually get printed, nice and cleanly, onto a nice clean van?

I’ve included “cats and kittens” in the category list because the guy says that some of the faces he does look like hybrid human/lion faces.

Thursday March 24 2016

Kudos to the Real Photographer who contrived to photo an airship in a way that has surely gone viral already:

image

Indeed.

More seriously:

The applications for the plane are broad, such as transporting cargo, performing surveillance operations, or simply to carrying super-rich tourists through the skies over London.  The Guardian reports that two potential uses are monitoring refugees crossing the Mediterranean and acting as a mobile communications network at large sporting events.

A blimp.  Can someone tell me how it differs from the blimps that we see already?

First customers, according to the Guardian, will be people like oil sheikhs.  I suppose the dream is that the a sector of the more-money-than-sense super-rich will each want one, the way they now want a yacht.