In my first blog post about reuse of digitised content, particularly images, I suggested that institutions could think about batching up some good images, for people to take and reuse, so they could find them easily. They could also be prepared for people to reuse. But what would this mean, in reality? I decided to have a try, myself. Halloween is approaching – lets look for 5 really cute, public domain images about Halloween, and see if we can make them “more” reusable, whatever that may mean. Like this one:
Isn’t she handsome? An illustration tagged with witch, over at the British Library book images photoset, Flickr. Originally taken from “Life & Finding of Dr. Livingstone”, 1897.
But bother about all that writing, which makes it unusable on my Halloween party invitations. It would be better if there wasnt all that writing, just the image, right?
Or even, make the background transparent. Ta da! take it and do with it as you like, please do.
Nice, huh? and all this took me was time. An hour or so of grubbing about on flickr, an hour or so of messing around in Photoshop (I’m rusty). And as we all know, time is precious, and institutions dont have that level of time to devote to this kind of thing. Hmmm.
I also wonder what I’m really doing here. Turning images into clip art? erm, yay? Is that what we mean by reuse? But why else are we making images available, if its not for people to take them and do something with them? Does this make them more “useable”? Its certainly more easy to take the image and dump it into a poster, or webpage, etc. We need to ask ourselves what we mean by use and reuse, if we cant conceptualise what that really means in the first place.
But I said 5 images, right? I’m time pressed at the moment (shortly off on a big work trip), so – being honest here – I signed up for the first time to Fiverr, where you can get a myriad of small tasks done for $5, and bought some photo retouching for photos, and within an hour, I had four other Halloween images, this time from the Internet Archive Flickr Pool, converted into black and white, with transparency too. A set of Halloween images! But Fiverr made me feel icky – even though this fixing up would be a relatively simple task for someone with better PhotoShop chops than I to do, and even though I chose someone who said they were a student in a first world country, it just seems such a small amount to pay someone. (I did try to engage them in conversation about that, and offered going hourly rate I would pay a student: they didn’t reply). I am happy with the images provided, but I wouldn’t advocate institutional use of this type of service if it can be avoided, something about it feels exploitative to me. It was interesting to try. (Perhaps its part of my penance that I share these images here for everyone but… shudder. Is that how we value skills now? Sorry, world. I know is the market economy, but, doesn’t mean I have to pay people less than I believe a job is worth).
So now what.
I parked this, and a selection of others I found that I’ll put at the bottom of this post, on a group over at Flickr. There’s been obvious interest in them, with a total of 50 views or so in 24 hours, even though I didn’t tell anyone where they were, yet. So I’ll leave them up there, and take them if you like! I think they are cute. Do something, they are in the public domain! they are free! Use them at will! It only cost me time and some perhaps student’s time and $5 and the electric that drives the internet and the heavy metals that are in our computers etc etc! and if you fancy telling me how you used them, on here or on twitter, that would be great, but you dont have to because its public domain! woohoo! (I may do some reverse image lookup in a while and see where they got to).
This is a minor experiment – especially compared to my last blog post, which was much more of an investment in both time and money – but it goes back to what I was saying previously about the time and skill needed to use the image content available successfully. Its not all just “there” yet, you need time to sort, and time to manipulate, and resources to do so. It also makes me think of what you read about in pre-print times, when artists’ workshops had teams of people working for them who just painted silk, or hair, or skin or whatever, and the whole thing was a production line, where you farmed jobs out to other painters – sure, its a makers revolution, but its one that involves getting a student to do a quick job on PhotoShop for you, or a print shop to do some formatting and printing. You can take the content and do something with it, if you have the resources to both pay for and manage the process. The stuff is in the public domain, and is free. But doing something with it isnt, not really.
Except, of course, I’m not Raphael, I’m just messing about with images taken offline and turned into slightly cleaned up versions of themselves for clip art. I’d like to see a “real” collection do a longitudinal study on the benefits of this, releasing some of their content in different graphic formats, and tracking interest… hmmm, a potential MA student dissertation for this year, perhaps? Its a worthy topic, and one that should be pursued in more than a couple of hours, and a hurried blog post.
Still, Happy Halloween, and feel free to reuse these in any way you like, should you want to. The full size I have is up here, made smaller to fit in blog format, you know what to do to grab the larger file. Black and white jpgs first, then transparent png.