Tag Archives: Tumblr

Journalism Technologies: 7. A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

“How many of you in the room have a Flickr account?” asked my colleague Caroline during her lecture on photo sharing in Journalism Technologies this week. Not a hand went up, other than ours. An indication of how selfies, filters and apps have taken over this space, since the days a decade ago when putting pictures on the internet meant looking at those familiar blue-and-pink dots.

The stories of Flickr, Tumblr and Instagram took up much of Caroline’s lecture. The key concept she introduced was that of mass amateurisation, memorably applied to the social web by Clay Shirky. Because reading lists don’t always have to feature readings, we made his 2005 TED talk on the subject required viewing this week. The workshop featured a bit on how to take your own smartphone photos and embed them, before some guidance on searching Google Images and, yes, Flickr, for Creative Commons images.

Getting journalism students to keep their heads up and look out for interesting things in the world around them is a perennial challenge. When you’re a journalist, all sorts of things can seem like potential stories – from the planning sign pinned to a lamppost, to all those posters on the community noticeboard. The next homework task is to get them to take just such a picture while walking around Huddersfield, do a bit more research into the story, then write it along with the embedded image in their blogs. I’m looking forward to seeing what they all find.

My New Tumblr: American Civil War Beards

General Ambrose Burnside. Better remembered for his facial hair than being a general.

General Ambrose Burnside. Better remembered for his facial hair than being a general.

I’ve finally got round to getting myself a Tumblr. For the unitiated, it’s a flexible and easy-to-use microblogging platform, pitched somewhere between a shorter form of traditional blogging and a social network. Recently purchased by Yahoo for $1.1bn, it’s going to be fascinating to see how it develops. And there’s no better way to keep an eye on something than by actually using it.

Many Tumblr users have expressed the fear that Yahoo will mismanage the site, as it arguably did with Flickr, once the darling of photo-sharing but long since put in the shade by Instagram. Ahead of the Tumblr deal there were some predictions that Yahoo might roll them both together, but that hasn’t happened, and instead Flickr was relaunched last month. I’ve always found the communities there to be extremely useful for both images and knowledge, and I suspect a revitalised Flickr may prove more useful for journalists than any number of Tumblrs, fun though they are.

I decided to do my Tumblr on the impressive beards sported by generals during the American Civil War, largely because I’m currently reading Shelby Foote’s classic and absorbing three-volume history of the conflict. But another good reason is to avoid infringing anyone’s copyright. I’m using the public domain Civil War photography of the great Mathew Brady, placed online by the US National Archives using, yep, Flickr.