Monday, October 31, 2011

Technology Boot Camp Week 4: Photo Sharing, Online Video and Audio

This week, the Technology Boot Camp theme is multimedia. We’ll take a look at photo sharing, as well as online video and audio resources.

Photo sharing?

Recall that last week, we explored social networks. One of the most-used features of social networking is photo sharing. Photo albums no longer collect dust on the shelf; they now travel the world. When you snap a great picture, it’s easy to share it with a few friends or to send it to all of your online contacts.

To get a better idea of what photo sharing is about, take a look at this video overview.

At the Library, we get many questions about taking photos from digital cameras and getting them onto Facebook and other sites. The specifics differ from site to site, but this article on Discovery’s How Stuff Works site provides a general overview of uploading photos, along with discussions about privacy, tagging and other aspects of online photo sharing.

Facebook provides a page of information about uploading photos, but we also recommend taking a look at this video tutorial. For information about uploading photos to Twitter, look here.

Beyond Facebook

Many people use Facebook and other social networking sites to share photos, but sites that specifically focus on photo sharing have advantages worth considering. They typically give you more flexibility to organize your images, more capacity to store your digital images, and more ways to connect with communities of people who share your photography interests. They also allow you to do lots of additional things with your digital images, such as editing and ordering prints.

You can also search and browse through photos posted by other people. Last year, Flickr, perhaps the most popular dedicated photo sharing site, reached five billion total images. There are several other noteworthy photo sharing sites, including Snapfish and Google’s Picasa. If you have a Yahoo! account, you already have a Flickr account. If you have a Gmail account, you’ll have access to Picasa.


Let’s look a little more closely at Flickr, one of the most popular photo sharing sites. Start by taking the tour.

Flickr gives you a modest amount of free storage space for your pictures, sufficient for the casual photographer. More dedicated photographers would want to consider stepping up to the pro account which provides unlimited storage.

Flickr has a few features that have made it stand out amongst its competitors.

  • Tags are like labels, keywords that you can attach to photos to make them easier to locate. Flickr provides more information on their Tags FAQ page.
  • Groups allow people with common interests to connect and share photos with each other. To get a feel for what a group looks like, take a look at these Louisville-related groups.
  • Sharing and privacy: Similar to our discussion of privacy in Facebook last week, Flickr has tools to make it easy to share photos only with those people you’ve designated. You can read about this in more detail on their Privacy FAQ page.

Even without having an account, Flickr is a remarkable tool for finding fantastic images. Most photo sharing sites have a good search function. Flickr’s search tool is simple, yet excellent, enhanced by the quantity of tags that have been applied to photos.

What makes Flickr’s photo search particularly useful is the ability to limit your search to those photos that have been designated with Creative Commons licensing. This means, in short, that the photographer has given you limited rights to reuse the photo. So if you are seeking photos to use in a presentation or school project, you can click on the Advanced Search link from the search page and then select the “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content” option to get photos safe for reuse. Be mindful that there are different levels of re-use permission, so if you plan to modify a photo or use it commercially, be sure you understand the different types of Creative Commons licensing.

More fun with Flickr

Flickr provides the means to build some interesting applications that leverage their huge collection of images. These tools are usually referred to as mash-ups. Check out some of these tools and fun sites that are built around Flickr:
Spell with flickr
Colr Picker
Mosaic Maker (Try the Flickr tags option)
earth album (another Flickr map mashup)
Big Huge Labs is home to a long list of Flickr based tools and toys.

Next, let’s talk about online video.

YouTube and beyond

It’s likely that many of you have watched a video on YouTube. As of May, 3 billion videos were watched on YouTube every single day! But did you know that YouTube has a special section of their site dedicated to educational videos from colleges and universities? It’s called YouTube EDU and it features an incredibly wide range of lectures, student projects, and other university-driven content. You can search by topic or browse the individual university channels.

Take a look at the offerings from Khan Academy: more than 2,400 videos on a wide variety of academic topics, all freely available online. (You can also browse their catalog on the Khan Academy web site instead of using the YouTube interface.)

But what about my videos?

Of course, YouTube and other video sites like Vimeo aren’t just places to watch videos, but also allow you to create an account and share videos with others. YouTube is now owned by Google, which means that your Google account is also your YouTube account.

Uploaded videos can be viewed on the YouTube site and can be shared with a link or by embedding the video onto your blog or other website. For example, Google provides instructions for embedding a YouTube video onto your Blogger blog.

Online Audio - Podcasts

Without being overly technical, podcasting is a technology used for the distribution of audio files over the Internet. Just like blogging makes it possible for anyone to publish about their particular topic of interest, podcasting makes it nearly as easy for people who want to produce audio programming to do so. The result is thousands of programs produced outside of mainstream media on any topic you can imagine. LFPL uses podcasting to provide access to recordings of our Authors at the Library series.

If you’re interested in the history of podcasting and origin of the term, Wikipedia’s article on podcasting provides a good starting point. You might also find this video explanation of podcasting insightful.

Let’s explore the diversity of programs that are being produced under the banner of podcasting. Check out one of the following podcasts. Visit the link below and click on the media player to listen to a recent episode (unless otherwise noted). Look for a play button along these lines:


Grammar Girl, part of Quick and Dirty Tips, a network of great self-help podcasts
Merriam Webster Word of the Day (Scroll down to the podcast section.)
Storynory (Click on one of the stories.)
Genealogy Guys (Click on the direct download link.)
Internet Safety Project

Mainstream media has also adopted podcasting as a way to distribute content. Check out the offerings of one of the following:

CNN Podcasts
ESPN Podcenter
BBC Podcasts

If you use iTunes to manage your music on your computer, you’ll find an enormous selection of podcasts, both independent and mainstream, in the iTunes Store.

Give it a try!

Try using Flickr’s search tool to find images of interest. Post a few remarks on your blog about photo sharing. What did you search? Did you come up with anything interesting? How might this be a helpful tool?

Browse some of the videos on YouTube. When you find one you would like to share, it’s easy enough to embed a video onto your blog or link to it from your Facebook page. Try to do one or the other. To add a video to Blogger, look here. For tips on adding a video to Facebook, click here.

On your blog, talk a bit about your experience browsing and consuming podcasts. What did you listen to? What did you think of the podcasts you sampled?

That’s it for this week. If you have questions or other feedback, please use the contact form. Next week, we’ll take a look at some amazing online resources available specifically to LFPL’s patrons.