Tag Archives: Flickr

“Nokia wants to link to your Flickr account”

I’ve aquired a Nokia 5220 from a dear friend of mine. It’s a rather cheap, simple phone but it sports a camera, capacity to play music and video etc. It doesn’t support 3G connections, but heck GPRS is good enough for low-bandwidth stuff. So I’m thinking about starting a photo/fashion blog embedded into my deep, political criticism and other crap I almost manage to write down.

The phone has a Flickr application, which I’m guessing was installed by default rather than the previous owner. This Flickr application allows me to upload images to the account, which is then retrievable from the internets of course. Pretty basic and probably useful for most people who want to easily share their images. Personally I’m not quite satisfied and will probably write my own interface for a photo sharing module to WordPress (or stand-alone) myself…

Anyhow, the first question I get when I’ve newly registered a Flickr account and access it with my mobile phone is: “Nokia wants to link to your Flickr account”. Now, what does this mean?

This is a third-party service. If you don’t trust it with access to your account, then you should not authorize it.

Right. That’s all sound and stuff. But one might be curious as to what would be authorized if you accepted this third-party agreement… Boy was I surprised when I scrolled down and read the following:

By authorizing this link, you’ll allow Nokia to:

  • Access your Flickr account (including private content)
  • Upload, Edit, and Replace photos, and videos in your account
  • Interact with other members’ photos and videos (comment, add notes, favorite)

Wow. Nokia asks permission to become me. Interestingly enough, this is followed by the statement that “Nokia will not have permission to: Delete photos and videos from your account”. Then, I ask myself, what do they mean by allowing them to replace but not delete? And who the fuck would ever authorize them to do this?

I of course clicked “NO THANKS” and uploaded my pictures after logging in to Flickr. But the question appeared once again when I started the application a second time… I wonder if they ever stop nagging. (Was I merely using a fallback HTTP interface? I guess I’ll never know…)

I understand that they need this access to allow their third party application to manage your account details. No human interaction is needed, but still it is not denied. The company Nokia might as well employ 5000 Chinese who do the “management” manually, rather than automatically through software.

This is also why “cloud computing” is bad. It’s the same theory. Outsource/export your control, rights and supervision to a third-party company. No, it’s much better to keep your computing to yourself. You wouldn’t ask a stranger to manage your family photo albums, right?

Update 2010-03-10: As the comment for this post have pointed out, it’s not Nokia the company who are asking for permission, it’s the Nokia photo sharing software. I’m still confused as to why I can’t just hand it my username and password, or better yet a private API key, and be done with it… It should be obvious for people that when you use third-party software it’s distributed “as-is”.

Creative Commons and the Capital of Culture

Umeå municipality was last year elected to become “Capital of Culture” in Europe during 2014. Every year two cities are elected this position, which are in turn granted funds and encouraged to promote cultural activites. “Open source”, “participation” and “accessibility” are three of the guiding phrases Umeå have used to describe its cultural stamina. However, the actual meaning behind these words seem to be slightly disregarded.

Downloading this image from here is illegal. Umeå 2014 probably wants you to do it, though. Photo: Darren Packman

Today I was linked a spectacular HDR photography (all HDR pics look spectacular…) of the logotype Umeå uses for its Capital of Culture campaign. I know I somewhat praised Flickr in my last post on Creative Commons, but truth be told most material there is still monopolistic. Such as this photo of Umeå’s former town hall, elegantly positioned behind the 2014 logo.

However, the photograph is not licensed specifically and thus falls into the claws of copyright. No one is allowed to share it without permission, except to ones closest friends and family. Please also note that Sweden does not have “fair use” laws.

This is not a complaint, apart from my general nagging, but rather an expressed wish that the group behind Umeå 2014 really sit down together and think about what they want. What does one really mean when using the phrase “accessible” culture? Or “open source” for that matter. Participatory culture (“The art of co-creation”) is even the subheader for part 1 of Umeå’s proposed application, which is efficiently eradicated through the use of “All rights reserved”.

Co-creation is at the heart of the Open Source software movement, where users have full access to the source code and are empowered to make their own changes and improvements to it.

Now, that sounds all fine and dandy. Sure, it’s mostly a rip-off from Gävle’s their portrayed view of the freedom to roam cultural life (“kulturell allemansrätt” in Swedish), but that’s what is encouraged. “Rip-off” is just a negative word – it’s actually a “spin-off”, or “development” of the phrase. I’d like it if they weren’t just throwing words around.

Umeå attitude to Open Source isn’t just empty talk. Umeå has a proven track record of co-creation, and this has lead to pioneering modes of expression.

…is how the application formulates it. Though none of the projects listed (operas/librettos, closed source library applications, architectural design, Cultumea.com) below really specify what one is actually allowed to do with the immaterial creations. As mentioned above this means the works are defaulted to a restrictive copyright which bans sharing, participation and even consuming. The only reflection on legal rights to works I can find is the mundane statement on Cultumea.com’s ToS: “Check that you have the legal right to post for example texts, images or audio. A lot of material is copyrighted and may not be uploaded to this site without permission from the copyright holder”.

My interpretation of actions taken by – despite the phrasing – are that culture is something one consumes. However. the slight glimpse of hope I can extract from the documents by the Umeå 2014 group is what I really support. The fact that culture is something one participates in. My definite recommendation is the use of Creative Commons licensing both as a means to an end, but also to be true to the written word. The fact that it might also encourage others to use the same sort of licenses is a purely good consequence.

The day I can proudly say that material produced by, for and during the Umeå 2014 campaign is encouraged to be shared (through its licensing) – not even the most bitter of cultural accessibility proponents would complain. Please, Umeå 2014, take into account that the nature of today’s copyright impedes cultural development. If sought for, I’d be happy to hold lectures on the possibilities of Free cultural licenses. Give me coffee for the evening and I’m yours. You can even copy my presentation and share it with anyone – legally.

“Social media” does not mean “Facebook and Twitter”

There’s a constricted idea of what the internet is capable of. Social media is immediatly attributed to Facebook and Twitter because they’re the biggest players on the field. In Sweden, Spotify is getting great press even though Jamendo is the superior choice for music distribution. The internet is not trade or services – it’s communication.

Someone suggests teaching Facebook to schools to make them understand social media. But if we attribute it the label “social media”, do we not suggest much more than a lucky US-based company which merely offers a centralised, restrictive, surveilled and censored service? This post is not aimed at that specific article however. It’s much more general than that.

What we see today are only a proof of concept for a baseline of possibilites available by way of the internet. The current “globally used” (what about Brazil and China?) services are all centralised and restrictive. We are bound to see future development in even more awesome social networking technologies available to common internet users – similar to Google Wave. Today we have user-created services with user-generated content and the key of the future is decentralization. This implies even more social interaction, resulting in greater user-based filtering.

Personally, I’m seeing the world from a technical point of view. Unfortunately, for the end-user, the development process is often irrelevant. Free software is thought of as “free as in beer”, not free as in speech. Culture is copied and fileshared without regards to copyright laws, and thus Free culture is also viewed just as if it wasn’t priced. The steps to a common understanding of librethe right to use, modify and share – seem long and far away. Nevertheless they’re prerequisites for future development in online social networking.

Then how do we change this nihilistic, disrespective view on social media’s true nature? One might start with presenting Twitter’s main open source competitor identi.ca, using Creative Commons Attribution licensing. Also there’s the open source WordPress, which I use, that is superior in all aspects to any proprietary platform such as Google’s Blogger or Sweden’s popular “blogg.se”. Another service is the unfortunately closed source Flickr, but at least CC-licensing is a given choice there.

If the general public starts recognising what separates these services from the proprietary and restrictive ones, we are not far from a social media revolution. One might not immediatly think about it, but copyright issues today enforce a noticable restriction on social media development. Sites like YouTube are more successful than progressive open source alternatives simply because they have a legal department financed by Google. Free licenses, however, effectively reduce the amount of bureacracy needed to come up with new ideas.

A lighter copyright regulation would immediatly spawn several new internet top sites. To catch a glimpse of the future-to-be, compare the all-praised Spotify with its direct libre counterpart, Jamendo. The latter allows you to listen without registration, payment or advertisement. Jamendo also allows you to choose your music player of choice, embed it on other web services, download entire albums for offline-access. Heck, Jamendo even lets you support the artists and easily share your own works! From what I hear, Spotify can’t do any of those things.

The future is decentralization. With my above conclusions, users can soon also take part in the distribution, not just generation, of content. It’ll be harder to make mad profit, so there’ll be resistance – but this also introduces significantly lower costs. Given that the internet isn’t crippled along the way, we’ll be getting there site by site, API by API. Open standards, one by one. Shortly followed (or introduced?) by Free – libre – software implementations. Paving the path for true social networking.

Update 2009-12-31 14.23: I forgot to mention the most important part about Jamendo – they allow you to upload your own, independent work to benefit from the entire Creative Commons community.

Cory Doctorow, I found through the EFF, mentions that anyone against DRM-free e-books by consequence wishes to abolish the printed book, since printed books have an ancient history of being shared regardless of copyright. That’s exactly why social media can’t be social as long as we’ve got specific laws which are different from afk social behaviour.