Thing 18: telling stories through pictures

Of all of the Web 2.0 tools I’m a fan of, Instagram and Flickr have always presented a few problems for me. Until now, when I hear the word Instagram I can’t help but think of hipsters with their artisan ciders and carefully trimmed beards, health freaks snapping their “gluten free, chai seed blueberry muffins” and “it girls’s” selfies of Botox filled lips and HD eyebrows with the inevitable flash of Micheal Kors watch and handbag. I guess what I’m saying is that it’s all so “look at me, look how cool I am”, yeah well you know what, I eat blueberries every morning for breakfast but I just don’t feel the need to brandish this around for all the world to see.

Ok so perhaps I’m being slightly hyperbolic here. A little. Maybe. But I see how music videos and popular culture filter in through their mass medias and then I see Instagram pictures desperately trying to replicate this “ideal world” where people seem to prance about with Indian chief headdresses in vintage convertible cars with tribal tattoos and fringed leather jackets… I could go on and on and no, this isn’t a personal attack on Lana Del Ray or any of the celebrities and artists that I can’t help but notice people methodically (yet oh so nonchalantly) trying to replicate. I have just tended to feel in the past that image sharing platforms like this are perpetuating the desire for attaining perfection and young people are probably the demographic with highest exposure whilst simultaneously being the most vulnerable. When I was fourteen I remember been hypnotised by the beauty of the models in vogue and Elle but it didn’t make me feel good, it made me feel like I wasn’t good enough and never would be like them. Obviously what happened next was that I grew up and realised that actually it’s not natural to have a “thigh gap”, I noticed that actually no human beings really looked that insanely perfect because air brushing could only be performed on media generated images. I just fear that if I felt the damaging presence of these images of perfection ten years ago, what must it be like for young girls now? They have to contend with a constant barrage of content which they’ll inevitably be comparing themselves to. Perhaps I’m being over the top and I realise how conservative I sound but I don’t like this culture of vanity and comparison that has irrefutably evolved at a cataclysmic rate due to platforms like this. I just know if I had a daughter I’d have to think very carefully about how I’d have her interact with these applications.

I really hate to sound negative and I accept that there are probably many societal positives to come from this as well as the bad stuff. For instance, I don’t think I ever even knew about the Creative Commons project but I think it’s incredible. For all of the7548442648_761a493a2a_h issues presented by the very history we are making being under threat by superseding technologies, it’s great to know that such a grass roots project has been Bourne to document our 21st century world and not only that but it’s being supported by so many cultural institutions. I love how, once registered you are invited to make the commons richer by sharing your knowledge, its a library democracy! I lost myself for about two hours last night just ogling the amazing images that have been captured from space and planets to plants and wildlife and finally old images of places i’ve lived or been to. This is truly a gem of our time.

I can see how photo sharing is an invaluable resource for libraries and museums, particularly as technologies emerge and threaten old media formats with extinction; I’d hope that projects like the creative commons will allow photograohs to be carried through change and remain protected. One of our biggest threats is losing important pieces of history which seems more of a problem now than ever before. I tried to download the instagram app last night but my laptop wouldn’t let me for some reason but I’m also quite glad. I hope I don’t get reprimanded for not taking part in this aspect of the task but I just don’t quite feel too comfortable with using this yet. I also have the fear that apps like this automatically sync your personal images from your phone and that’s something I just don’t want to have to deal with! I am however glad to have come accross flickr, I won’t be using it in a personal or professional capacity at the moment because it’s not too relevant for either but I’m a happier chappy knowing the commons exists. It’s also given me chance to dig up an old picture of Trinity College Dublin from The National Library of Ireland’s commons account.

(Image taken from The national Liibrary of Ireland’s Creative Commons account Flickr)

I hope some one will tell me if I’m not attributing this correctly!

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