Tag Archives: Online

Images and the Decontextualised Web

Oh Internet! How you have shown me so many wonderful things. Like that picture of, something… actually I’m not really sure what it was or where it was from. The only thing I knew was that I liked it.

This is a situation I am in all the time! Seriously. There are so many examples out there of sites that will show you the wonders of the world with collections of breath taking photographs and snippets of information with limited to no context. I often see something I like such as an amazing piece of architecture and think wow that’s great, I wonder where that is… with often no real way of finding out.


Side note: Google Goggles shows some potential in tracking down the source of images.


So Jasper, what is your main beef? Well, I think that the problem is that there is an inherent lack of citation going on. Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to be the copyright police on the issue but no citations leads to plagiarism.  I know, I’ve been to university so I have a bee in my bonnet about this stuff… but the whole concept of don’t rip off other people’s shit and pass it off as your own is based on some very good reasons. If we never acknowledge original work then I imagine the internet is going to become a mire of dodgy meme’s. I love dodgy meme’s. I just don’t want other work to be abandoned for the fear that it will just get ripped off.

Social media suffers from the same problem with user’s sharing images and quotes with no background. Now I know wherever you get people powered content you can never hold them to any level of editorial accountability but what it does illustrate in my eyes is a propagation of a lazy culture that is more than just seeping into our society.

I will always be grateful of Wikipedia enforcing their policy of not allowing primary sources. I can’t tell you how many pages I have edited over the years asking contributors to cite their statements. I see it as a nice little way of calling bullshit on something without directly saying so. However I don’t think that this model works at all for most sites – it is far too restrictive.

So where do we find it done correctly? Well cracked.com for one. There are plenty of others, but this one is a stand out as it references (almost wikipedia style) what it is talking about when relevant, however there is ample amounts of primary source material there too. Oh, and all imagery is credited.

The worst part is that putting this argument forward has made me feel like a fucking dinosaur. I want a free and uncomplicated internet. I like to browse a thousand images a day for shits and giggles. I just would like sometimes to be able to know what I am looking at. Is that too much to ask?