Moving away from posting my own pictures, I thought I would highlight some of the other fantastic ones on Flickr.
I really love this picture, it has an amazing sense of “Germanic” tranquillity about it.
One of my favourite recent photos (has to be recent as my favourites change daily) is this one; taken at the Festival of History and then given an antique look in photoshop.
It was, in all, a great weekend and I would strongly recommend any one in the UK around this time next year go along – even if you aren’t (yet) a history buff you’ll enjoy it.
(sorry, more ego massaging, but then what are blogs for?)
In the past I have boasted about my photos getting pride of place in Flickr for reasonably obscure areas. Today, I have discovered one of my pictures in pole position for a very, very popular place:
You can see the original picture on Flickr and it would be great if you could stop by, leave a comment and add it to your favourites 🙂
I will applogise for the last few posts here being a bit morose and screaming about the doom and gloom of our crazy world. To try and make things better (and to shamelessly get more hits on my flickr stream 🙂 ) I want you to have a look at these four castle pictures and let me know which one you think is the best – comments on flickr would be preferred but here will do 🙂
Thanks for your patience and the normal miserable service will resume tomorrow.
Well, actually maybe neither fame or fortune, but I have just realised I am a “featured photographer” on Flickr now! (Check out the Strangford pages, you may have to scroll down a bit though…). I am sure this is of little interest to any one who is not in my immediate family, but I couldn’t resist 🙂 [edited to add Newtonabbey pages as well! Wow!]
A while ago (19 Mar), I made a post here looking at the search terms most people used to get here. At the time we were comfortably getting 400 hits a day and the huge majority of them were people searching for Bodiam Castle.
Well, nothing has changed. We are still hovering around 400-450 hits a day, although there was a spike to 600 when a previous post got Stumbled. These are still around 80% first time hits, so we need to think about why people aren’t coming back. Of the first time hits, 80% (slight increase) are from search engines but still nearly all are from Google searches. Shame really, as I now prefer Yahoo search… 🙂
Anyway, the odd part is that the search terms haven’t changed either. Depending on your source (firestats differs from Feedburner and google analytics) the most searched for term is either “Fine Art” or “Bodiam Castle.” This terms are supplemented by such relevant terms as “castle” “castle with moat” “bodiam” “fairytale castle” and “art.” In all 60% of the top ten search terms through which people find our wonderful blog are castle ones. The remaining four are “McCann Blog”, “Obama” and the very odd “wtf” & “there.” I feel sorry for the people who arrive from some of these terms – no wonder we dont get repeat visitors.
I can live with two of them… It is strange, given the well thought out social commentary Heather posts that nearly all the searches people use to find our sites are for castle pictures. Is this a sign that more people search for castles than (say) Surveillance state or that our blog is just better ranked for castles…?
Still beggars cant be choosers, so as you can see I have pandered to the masses once more with another picture of the gorgeous Bodiam Castle, it really is an artistic castle picture (:-) ). If you are in the south west of England, you really should visit.
The nonsense, and false controversy, created by Expelled just seems to never want to go away. In this respect the Discovery Institute really hit on to a winner with what could best be described as a poor first attempt by an art student film. Atheist and science blogs have been discussing the nonsense for what seems like eternity. I cant imagine how anyone could even begin to pay for this amount of publicity but there you go. Sadly, I actually feel that all this furore around the crap film is actually required.
Once upon a time I was optimistic about the human race. In this mindset I would have thought to myself “everyone seeing this film will realise it is total bullshit and ignore it.” I have, sadly, learned to think differently. When nonsense is placed into the public domain it can be either challenged or ignored. By challenging it the nonsense rises to the status of “controversy” and there is (in the public mind at least) the concept of a debate taking place. By ignoring it, the unthinking public begin to think it has merit and it slowly becomes an accepted “truth.” It really is a lose:lose situation for rational science. I can not think of a way to avoid the nonsense taking over the Earth, but at least, where I can, I will try to challenge it.
With this in mind, I came across a gorgeous picture of an American church on flickr. This is a very attractive picture so please, take a moment to visit and have a look – if you have a flickr account, please let the photographer know what you think of the picture (and he has a pretty good photostream).
It all went downhill, however, when I read the description of the picture.
Freedom of thought and expression are two of the most basic tenants of any free society.
Without those two things, you do not have a free society.
Well, I pretty much agree. They may well not be the most basic tenets of society but freedom of expression is very important. On a pedantic note, I cant see how (realistically) you can take away someone’s freedom of thought until mind-reading becomes commonplace.
We went to a must see movie this weekend. In Ben Stein’s (“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”) new documentary movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed Ben shows how little academic freedom exists in our universities if you want to discuss unpopular topics like the origins of life. (links removed here but intact on the original)
Ouch. And he had got off to such a good start. Notice how this brings in the Creationist stand-by of creating the false associations with “academic freedom” and “unpopular topics”? Creationism / ID relies on trickery to convince the unthinking that it is a legitimate “alternative” and some secret cabal are trying to repress it. The “freedom” word is thrown around whenever someone tries to point out is not science to the extent that the average non-scientist actually thinks it is an oppressed viewpoint. Amazing really.
Much of the academic world thinks that the conversation should be closed because Darwinian Evolution has answered all of those questions… But, is that true????
Another creationist gem. This is a great question because it is massively false. No scientist, especially evolutionary biologists, think the conversation should be closed. That is the claim made by the creationists. However, this 180 degree spin goes a long way to masking that.
If you do not think that is true as a professor, get ready to loose you job. Yes, that politically incorrect thought has been banned in the university… I thought the university was a place of open discussion and thought???? Think again…
And here is the first falsehood. No professor who thinks the question about origins of species is not closed would lose their job. A professor who is so confused about their subject area as to think Creationism is an “alternative” to evolution should lose their job in the same manner that a physics professor who thinks the luminiferous ether exists, and propagates light, should lose their job. Imagine a woodwork teacher who thought you could cut would with butter, should he remain teaching? No. But not because “politically incorrect thought has been banned.”
Further on, as part of a short debate, the photographer comments:
You are exactly what the movie was talking about… you just to creationism the moment that intelligent design is brought up…
and you assume that all tenants of darwinian evolution are true..
and you think they are well defined….
Darwinian evolition is a mess… It is not science in the least…
More weirdness. Creationism is ID. No one assumes all the tenets of “Darwinian Evolution” are true, no one even assumes all the “tenets” of Evolution are true. That is not what science is about. The odd bit is the claim that Evolution is not science… I really struggle to get my head round the idea that people can honestly think Creationism Intelligent Design is “good science” compared to evolution. Where is the falsifiability? Where are the predictions?
After a while others join in the debate with things like this (from an otherwise reasonable person):
All that said, Wayne I completely agree that the way the discussion is silenced in academia is shameful. When scientist trot out the “earth is flat” idea they forget that at one time “scientiist” accepted that idea too. In other words, the commonly accepted “facts” might be wrong.
Argh. Do people honestly think that the academic world should engage in constant debate over all possible alternatives to a scientific theory? When did scientists EVER think the world was flat?
The last point I want to make before I remind everyone to go and look at the picture themselves is based on this:
We know from the second law of thermodynamics (entropy) www.entropylaw.com/ stuff always breaks down and degrades…. macro evoution requires more information to be added to produce more complex things…. second law of thermodynamics directly contratics that…. btw.. this is a law… meaning it always happen… not a theory like evolution…
Ouch. That good old standby the 2nd law. Obviously the Earth lives in isolation from the rest of the universe and no information (energy) can be added. Damn that Sun…
The best bit is the Law / Theory nonsense. Do people really not understand how the words work? Obviously not, because when challenged on the matter, our creationist photographer responded:
With all due respect, you are wrong about scientific law and theory.
You can read here science.kennesaw.edu/~rmatson/3380theory.html and a million other places…
Argh. Such madness, especially as the link doesn’t really support his claim but I will leave it as an exercise to the reader to try an educate him.
Please, take a moment to visit the Flickr photo page. It is a nice picture and the more sensible, reasonable and educational comments he get, the greater the chance he (or others) will learn something. If the nonsense is ignored, then the nonsense prospers.
I have been looking through the website logs to see just what it is that drives people to this site and, while lacking in raw comedy value (unlike some), it has been interesting.
Running a combination of Firestats, Feedburner and Google Analytics it seems this blog is getting around 400 visits a day. From these around 80% are new (which shows just what a non-loyal readership we hold…) and of those around 70% come here from a search engine – nearly all from Google. For the numbers-fans, this translates to about 200 hits a day from Google searches. Given the insanely varied nature of topics here, you would be excused for thinking this was reflected in the search stats. Not so.
Of the top ten search terms used to come here, seven are image searches, and this accounts for about 90 of the incoming hits. Even stranger, of these over a third are all searching for images of Bodiam Castle.
Now, Bodiam Castle is a gorgeous, fourteenth century fairytale castle in East Sussex, run by the National Trust, so I can understand why people are interested in it. In fact, I understand this well enough to have uploaded another photo!
If you have come here searching for Bodiam Castle, I hope you like this, and you can even see more on Flickr. It has been a long time since I have been to Bodiam so please, forgive me for the photos being out of date now. If you have links to other pictures of this gorgeous castle, please let me know and I will be more than happy to link to them from here.
Back onto the search topic, there is the determination issue to consider now. Will my posting of a new Bodiam article increase the amount of hits I get for this? Are people massively disappointed when the Mighty Google sends them here rather than elsewhere? Why dont people use Yahoo to search for Bodiam?
The other common terms people use for an “images search” are:
Now, some make more sense than others, but I can only guess at the disappointment people must feel when their searches lead them here.For completeness, the most common search terms that bring people to this site are:
One last point, a bit of an oddity is a search term Feedburner has identified leading some poor unfortunate here: “blog: I cannot read, feel distracted” – I have no idea what this blog has to offer this poor person.
It is an interesting problem about the world of “Web 2.0” (and I hate that buzz word, I will make sacrifices to Odin as an apology), but one of the main promises it makes is let down by the fundamental way the processes work.
The web was touted as being able to democratise the world, allowing the most insignificant person the ability to have their message heard across the world. This was taken to a new level with the advent of Web 2.0 applications and now, everyone is supposed to be able to get video, audio or text out into the world with ease.
Partially, this is true. In the sense that pretty much anyone with a computer and net access can make a blog, upload video or audio tracks, the ideals of the Web/Web2.0 are sound. The problem lies with its finer implementations.
Think about your own browsing habits. Think about what blogs you read on a regular basis, what videos you watch on YouTube and what websites you visit. Think about how you find new things (Google? Yahoo?) and you can see that the vast majority of things will be the “highest ranked” for a given genre or search term. If you do a google search for something you are interested in, what are the odds you will delve to the seventeenth page of results and look at the sites there – much less link to them in your own sites and improve their page rank. Blogs are the same, Technorati page rank can spell a death sentence for a blog or, in equal but opposite measures, propel the blog to server breaking hits. Digg, Reddit and the like are all similar.
The basic flaw is a catch-22-like situation. Until your website/blog/whatever becomes popular no one can find it, but it wont become popular until people can find it. Certainly there are workarounds – for example, when Technorati indexed the Atheist blogroll it was a surefire way for otherwise low-profile atheist blogs to get disproportionately high rankings – but these are far from certain. However, once a blog or site (or whatever, I will use the terms interchangeably to mean generic things on the web) gets that high ranking, the success will breed itself.
This crops up in many areas: for example, on Technorati the most popular blog is engadget, so more people read its posts and more people favourite or link it, meaning it gets more popularity. Moving away from blogs themselves you get situations like the “Top Five / Most Emailed” on Scienceblogs – these posts get more exposure to the general public and, as a result get more hits and remain in the top five. It gets to the stage where a “Popular” item can be an order of magnitude away from the “normal” items, simply because its success breeds more success.
Moving to the picture starting this meandering, Flickr has a variety of ways in which you can grade your pictures – interestingness, most comments, most views or by the number of times they have been made a favourite by someone. The picture from Prudhoe Castle (above) is the winner of the “interestingness” stakes. Despite being on flickr for months, it has only generated 98 views, 2 favourites and 5 comments – but this is enough to top the polls over pictures which have had more views, more favourites and more comments. So, in the interests of breeding further success, I am posting the picture here to see if it gets more comments, more views or more favourites. To see if the effect is repeatable, I am also including the picture which currently has the most comments (and a lot of views, but no where near the most).
Whatever happens, on the web as in real life, it seems that the more successful you are, the more successful you become. Breaking into that “winners circle” is not an easy thing. Despite the golden hopes that the web would democratise everyone, the reality is that (with the support of Google et al), the web is concentrating the provision of information into small, partisan, groups.
Is this a good thing?
[tags]Democracy, Web, Web 2.0, Internet, Philosophy, Society, Culture, Success, Random Thoughts, Prudhoe Castle, Prudhoe, Castle, Photo, Flickr, Photographs, Technology[/tags]
This is a fantastic example of the good quality pictures HDR processing can produce – sadly, it is not a picture I took!
It captures a wide range of colours and light, making the picture stand out against the normal “digital” photography people have become used to.
The best bit is this picture does this without creating the strange, otherworldly impression that some HDR pictures have. While I am actually a fan of the hyper-real tone mapping effects on HDR pictures, they can be overused. For me, when a photo has lots of vegetation the HDR looks better if it is more natural.
If you have a flickr account, drop by this guy and tell him what you think of his pictures.
[tags]Flickr, HDR, Photos, Pictures, Photographs, Photography, High Dynamic Range, Photoshop, Photomatix, Picture Editing, Digital Photography, Photo Editing[/tags]
Again, continuing my wander through Flickr, I came across a thread which was discussing “your most popular HDR image.”
In this discussion people were posting HDR images which flickr had rated as their most “interesting” – this is something Flickr works out by how many page views a picture gets, how many comments and how many times it is tagged as a favourite by some one.
Oddly, some of the pictures are pretty tame – especially when compared to some of the fantastic HDR ones. This picture (oddly the first one in the thread) is probably the one “I” think is the best HDR picture but some of the others are amazing as well.
It seems that with HDR some subjects are more suited than others – brightly coloured cars produce some amazing effects as do boats and Gothic architecture, but fruit (apples) seems to end up pretty pedestrian. Oddly, I am not sold on the HDR elephants either, but I like pictures of elephants in general.
Anyway, now it is time to work on my HDRs and see what I can produce.
Blimey – there I was looking round Flickr for inspiration and I came across this picture of some Meerkats (Suricata Suricatta).
Needless to say, this photo managed to break every “cute meter” on the planet. As far as flickr animal pictures go, it certainly has drawn some interest with hundreds of people adding it as a favourite (quite rightly so) and zillions of people leaving comments.
Oddly, for the zealots who write photography magazines, this picture has drawn so much praise despite it being reasonably “pedestrian” as far as technical skill goes. Just goes to show that all the rules in the world don’t count when you can take a fantastic photograph.
This certainly is a fantastic photograph.
[tags]Photos, flickr, meerkats, pictures, photographs, Digital Photos, Suricata Suricatta, Photography, Digital Photography, Animals, Cute[/tags]
I have been editing some more photographs to within an inch of their lives recently and trying out a few new effects. The wonders of things you can do with Photoshop may never amaze me and, as I have said in the past, you would be mad to think the camera never lies…
I will upload more to this collection as I get the chance.