Author Archives: Tom Woodward

Grave Trails

I went driving looking for things of interest to photograph. I saw a small cemetery on the side of the road and stopped to take a look. I thought it might be a local family cemetery and it was . . . only the family was from much farther back than I thought.

View Snead Cemetery at Edgewood in a larger map

Robert Snead

That he was born within 9 miles of Hanover court House on the 23 day of May 1762,
that, he has seen a record of his age in the family Bible, and that he believes it is now in
possession of Benjamin Thomas, of the said county; that when he went into service, he lived at
the place of his nativity, that since the Revolutionary war, he has lived in the same county near
Ground Squirrel Meeting house1 and still lives in the same place; that he served many tours; the
first he substituted himself for his brother John Snead, in the company of Joseph Cross, that
he marched as a private in that company in the fall or winter of 1778, as he thinks to
Williamsburg; that he served at that place and at a place called Rich Neck [in Richmond
County] until discharged after two months; that during this tour Gen’l [Thomas] Nelson2
commanded; that there was but one regiment as well as he remembers, at that place; that they
were engaged in guarding the coast and that nothing material occured. that when Arnold
invaded the state [Gen. Benedict Arnold, 5 Jan 1781] he was drafted, and served as a private
under Capt. John Anderson;

from this source (links/footnote are mine)

Sophia Snead

Twelve children. Seems more heroic than the whole Revolutionary War thing but also disturbingly like baseball card stats.

1 Now known as Cavalry Christian Church. I prefer the old name.

2 Founding father

Photography – Week 33

There are two men inside the artist, the poet and the craftsman. One is born a poet. One becomes a craftsman.

Emile Zola
Letter to Paul Cézanne (16 April 1860),
as published in Paul Cézanne : Letters (1995) edited by John Rewald


blue period

snapping turtle

Graffiti Train Car

just another shadow

Try #342


Harley Skull and wheel


Led by her phone

On the road

As I continue to take more pictures, more consistently, and with a bit more focus1- I find I wander farther afield (both geographically and conceptually) rather than narrowing and, perhaps, perfecting. Or at least improving more rapidly. It seems I follow a path in photography similar to the way I wander in everything else. I don’t really know if this leads to greater or lesser progress. Does taking landscapes influence your street photography? Do macros influence your portraits? Is it all part of a greater whole which shapes how you see the world? I have no idea. I’m hoping for the last one. It seems our society bets heavily on the opposite.

It’s interesting to me to look at how the extrinsic “reward” elements of photography plays out as well. It’s a tricky thing in my opinion. There is this idea of “pure” art for art’s sake versus a kind of “compromised” art for audience. This feels overly polarized to me. Art and audience seem inextricably intertwined. Weighing the value of audience against your own ideas and intent becomes the interesting place for me. It may very well be harder to do that in a time of low-cost likes, favs, and just about anything else you can imagine- all expertly designed to reward certain behaviors/content.2

For example, I consider the image below one of the best photographs I’ve taken. It has been viewed nearly 200 times and has zero “faves” and never saw any action on Explore. Jim likes it. I remain in love with the photograph in spite of the social media feedback.
I went through the desert . . .

I also like this photo and feel like it is good work. It has 71 faves and made it to #461 on Explore. It’s also the only one of the six photographs I’ve had make Explore that wasn’t dropped. I don’t consider it a better photograph than the other ones despite all the social feedback to the contrary.
of the city

Yet a third example, which has 28 faves and made it to #67 on Explore- much higher than any of the other photos I’ve had in that system.3 I don’t know exactly how I’d rank these photos. I like all three of them. I do know it has little to do with the elements that Flickr makes apparent to me. They do matter some. I do find it interesting. I do, for good or ill, look at that information. I imagine it impacts some of what I do. It’s always harder to say something “sort of” matters. It’s easy to argue that being in Explore can lead to good things for your photography. It brings in new people. You see their photos. They influence you. You make new friends etc. etc. Other possibilities open up. Maybe your photography changes. Maybe. Maybe.
sunflower macro

I’ve had three images in Explore in the last two months compared to three in the last nine years and I only know that because I looked. Does this mean my photos are getting much better? Maybe. Are they that much better? Almost certainly not. Does my dramatically increased publishing and interaction on Flickr influence Explore? Maybe. Maybe.

There are certainly many ways to game these systems- both the human aspects and the algorithmic ones. There are tons of posts on how to get your photos “explored” and even more advice on how to build an audience. I’m sure you can buy fav love someplace on the wide world of the Internet in much the same way you can buy Twitter followers.

This is a lot of writing to say very little. My general theme in life is that there’s very little that is black and white despite our best wishes to the contrary and each person tends to have to navigate all the gray based on their own choices and considerations.

1 That’s a photography pun.

2 Not too unlike grades in school.

3 See Alan, not all my photos are brooding.

The Web is Plastic

I saw the post above this morning and thought to myself that this is a problem I can solve. You can still bend and shape it to your desires, even if it’s not technically yours. There are lots of ways to deal with this issue but I figured I would look at removing the image preview entirely using CSS.

Turns out there is a Chrome Stylebot extension that lets you set custom CSS styles for particular sites and it is dead simple to use even if you don’t know CSS. Embedded below is an under one minute example of how to use Stylebot to deal with the image preview issue.

Weekly Web Harvest (weekly)

  • “Maybe that doesn’t seem like a lot, but consider what the city pays to keep it running: $9 a month in hosting costs. “I figured that even if it only led to a few fire hydrants being shoveled out, that could be the difference between life or death in a fire, so it was worth doing,” Michaels-Ober says. And because the CFA team open-sourced the code, meaning they made it freely available for anyone to copy and modify, other cities can adapt it for practically pennies.”

    tags: coding literacy programming computational thinking computer science socialmedia weekly

    • It turns out that rather than increasing the number of kids who can crank out thousands of lines of JavaScript, we first need to boost the number who understand what code can do.
    • the greatest contribution the young programmers bring isn’t the software they write. It’s the way they think. It’s a principle called “computational thinking,” and knowing all of the Java syntax in the world won’t help if you can’t think of good ways to apply it.
      • depending on who’s defining it . . . probably not computational at all . . . broader than that
  • “The world of the future will be an ever more demanding struggle against the limitations of our intelligence,” Wiener wrote in 1964

    tags: future past technology weekly

    • Wiener refused, for ethical reasons, to accept research contracts from the military or from corporations seeking to exploit his ideas. Since the military and corporations were the main sources of research support, Wiener’s defiance hindered his progress during a period of unprecedented technological advance.
    • . He would snore sonorously through academic meetings and enthusiastically pick his nose while delivering lectures
  • ““The astrophotography group on Flickr alone has over 68,000 images,” say Dustin Lang at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and a couple of pals. These and other images represent a vast source of untapped data for astronomers.

    tags: astronomy flickr data socialmedia mit technology web weekly twitter

  • “Gabby and I begin the delicate and confusing process that is closing out her part of the check without jeopardizing my Endless Appetizers. She tells me that the next jailer to keep me locked in a mozzarella prison of my own perverse design will be a woman named Marisa. I ask Gabby if she likes Marisa and she tells me she does; also, multiple times, that Marisa is an Italian-American. Perhaps Gabby is implying to me that Marisa will approve of my choice of app: i bastoncini di mozzarella, as they are called in her ancestral home.”

    tags: weekly friday appetizers

  • “Pulling a page from author and software developer Jon Udell, Hanselman encourages you to “conserve your keystrokes.” What does this mean? He explains by example:

    If Brian emails me a really interesting question about … and I send him back an exciting and long, five-paragraph with a code sample email that solves his problem, I just gave him the gift of 10,000 of my keystrokes. But there is a finite number of keystrokes left in my hands before I die, and I am never going to get those keystrokes back and I’ve just gifted them to Brian. And I don’t even know if he reads that email. So what should I do to multiply these keystrokes given that there is a finite number of those keystrokes left in my hands? I write a blog post and I mail him the link. Then after I’m dead, my keystrokes multiple—every time I get a page view that’s 5,000 keystrokes that I did not have to type.”

    tags: weekly productivity management

  • “Angry that I’d foiled his plan to have me arrested for drug possession, Fly had a local florist send a gaudy floral arrangement in the shape of a giant cross to my home, complete with a menacing message that addressed my wife and was signed, “Velvet Crabs.”

    tags: weekly security krebs

  • “A large body of political scientists and political psychologists now concur that liberals and conservatives disagree about politics in part because they are different people at the level of personality, psychology, and even traits like physiology and genetics.

    That’s a big deal. It challenges everything that we thought we knew about politics—upending the idea that we get our beliefs solely from our upbringing, from our friends and families, from our personal economic interests, and calling into question the notion that in politics, we can really change (most of us, anyway).”

    h/t Molly R

    tags: weekly thought opinions conservatives

  • “The roots of weirdness lie in the noun wyrd, an Old English term that pops up in Beowulf and denotes the (usually grim) demands of destiny. The adjective first appears in the phrase weird sisters, which was used by Scottish poets to describe the classical Fates before Shakespeare attached the term to the witches of Macbeth. But Shakespeare’s spelling of weird is, well, a bit weird—“weyrd”, “weyward”, and “weyard” appear in the first folio, but never “weird”. These alternate spellings, again, suggest the term wayward, a word used by Shakespeare to denote the capricious refusal to follow rule or reason. “

    tags: weird etymology weekly wayward thoughtvectors

  • “To this end, Eno has come up with words like “scenius,” which describes the power generated by a group of artists who gather in one place at one time. (“Genius is individual, scenius is communal,” Eno told the Guardian, in 2010.) It suggests that the quality of works produced in a certain time and place is more indebted to the friction between the people on hand than to the work of any single artist.””

    tags: weekly genius collaboration

  • “Yet you’ve probably heard people telling you that they’re an ENFJ (extraverted intuitive feeling judging), an INTP (introverted intuitive thinking perceiving), or another one of the 16 types drawn from his work, and you may have even been given this test in a professional setting. Here’s an explanation of why these labels are so meaningless — and why no organization in the 21st century should rely on the test for anything.”

    tags: weekly personality myers briggs research

  • “With all those photos being taken, chances are you and I have at one point accidentally wandered into someone else’s frame. It’s likely, however, that you’ll never really know you’ve photo-bombed someone’s shot. That’s why I was surprised by a Twitter message that I received out of the blue from a photographer I’ve never met before named Anthony Kurtz, which I share below:

    tags: weekly photograph serendipity

  • “”This is really amazing,” Steffel wrote on Reddit. “Everyone [of] you have made my day. All I wanted was a nice picture. What I received was a lot of love and support from a bunch of strangers. Along with a lot of great photos, drawings and paintings. Thanks everyone!”

    The response Steffel got from redditors was overwhelming and gave he and wife comfort in their time of sadness. Steffel told BuzzFeed he’s responded to many of the messages of condolences.

    tags: reddit weekly example

  • tags: history rome roman empire maps data orbis weekly roma tweet

  • “Craig Layman, an ecology professor at North Carolina State University, called Lauren’s work “one of the most influential sixth-grade science projects ever conducted.” He said it demonstrated something scientists should have done years before.

    tags: science lionfish lion fish research weekly

  • “And yet, while Scheper-Hughes doubted the literal truth of the tales, she was unwilling to dismiss the rumors. She subscribed to an academic school of thought that swore off imposing Western notions of absolute or objective truth. “

    tags: truth lies thoughtvectors organ human market detective weekly

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.