Category Archives: Writing

How to use pictures of The MET’s over 200,000 public domain artworks for free

Go here and make sure the Public Domain Artworks filter is selected. Done.

The instructions for doing this are here.

That page is linked to from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s press release about the images being available for use.

I found the press release via this Engadget post about the news (that doesn’t discuss how to actually go about getting the images at all).

The article and the press release both indicate that there are over 375,000 images available, so I find it odd that when you actually drill down to the collection (the link that I began this post with) and you filter by Public Domain, there are only “200,128 results out of 441,174 records” available, which smells like some press release inflation to me and some lack of diligence by everyone ingesting & regurgitating the press release.

However, more importantly to me, one of the people who first got paid for blogging on this here internets (back in my day…), I find it supremely irritating that in the spirit of keeping the reader’s eyes on our ads and on our site, there is no clear, easy to find path to find out exactly how to use these images in Engadget or any other “news coverage” of this that I’ve seen. Everyone just lazily throws it out there without any useful linking as if it were a newspaper, and that, my friends, is why blogging has become more marginalized and less powerful. We gave up our super-powers for ad money. #seewhatididthere

Comedy and Tragedy Artist: Anne Louis Girodet-Trioson (French, Montargis 1767–1824 Paris) Date: 1814 Medium: Black chalk and stumping Dimensions: 9 1/4 x 12 1/2 in. (23.5 x 31.8 cm) Classification: Drawings Credit Line: Karen B. Cohen Fund, 2003 Accession Number: 2003.5
Comedy and Tragedy
Anne Louis Girodet-Trioson (French, Montargis 1767–1824 Paris)
Black chalk and stumping
9 1/4 x 12 1/2 in. (23.5 x 31.8 cm)
Credit Line:
Karen B. Cohen Fund, 2003
Accession Number:

Blogging again; Join me

I started blogging again this past week. It wasn’t a New Year’s resolution (I gave them up as a New Year’s resolution over a decade ago and I’ve stuck with it). I started blogging again because it’s necessary and important to have a voice.

We’ve gone through a cycle where many of us had voices that we owned on our own sites. Some were popular, most were not, but it still gave us a voice where we could speak freely our minds and that we could freely control. Then we all started using other people’s tools. I decided I only really needed to tweet. Several people moved their sites over to platforms that other people owned and some of those platforms are already gone. If they’re not gone, they are controlled by someone else and risk going away eventually. If you’re reading this on Medium and your only place to publicize your thoughts is on Medium, I’m talking to you. You need to control your own voice as much as you can.

This site will only go away, most likely, when I die and someone thinks to stop the auto payments to keep it running. Hopefully someone in my family will think and be technical enough to actually archive a copy of it somewhere for their own knowledge of who I was in this partial view of me that I create with these words I control. If not, no biggie. Everyone eventually dies and is either forgotten or misremembered.

Return to owning your voice

Anyway, if you used to be a blogger in the beginning of blogging, I am issuing a call to you to return. Shake off the cobwebs of silence. Dust off your old neglected site. Start having your voice again. Stop only making witty comments on Facebook or Twitter without really thinking about what you’re saying and thinking. If you’ve never had your own blog that you have run yourself, start now.

I don’t care what you’re saying. I don’t care where you broadcast it. But own it. Make sure you control it and no one else. Be your voice. Be you. Not a Twitter user, or Facebook user, or Medium writer or whatever. Be you. Prove the value of public discourse controlled by the people and not by a plethora of various tools that make it all so much easier to do. These tools use their simplicity and our natural tendency for things to be easier, they use our laziness, to control us, to control you. Resist. Do it.

Don’t worry about SEO or all the noise. Be the signal. Join in conversations with other signals. Do it.

Unsubscribing from all the things

I really miss the heyday of RSS feeds. After running my own installation of Fever for years (which would periodically get bloated and I’d have to nuke it and start over) and then ultimately moving away from Fever after Shaun Inman discontinued support sometime last year, I’ve been using FeedWrangler, which I’m relatively pleased with.

Remember when you could actually find tons of useful options for locally hosted RSS feed readers back before we really cared about mobile phone support and reading the same feeds everywhere and Google Reader spoiled us all and then Google ruined our lives by shit-canning Google Reader? *sigh* Those were the good ole days of RSS. Amirite, Dave?

Anyhoot, my point is: RSS is great and I wish it were still as popular as it used to be with all the appropriate tools to support it. It allows you to subscribe to and be notified by all the things that you’d like to know about and you can easily skim through items you don’t care about in feeds.

This is extremely unlike the recent trend of email lists and subscriptions to emails… Where you have to open each one to mark it read. Where you have to click delete to make it actually go away. Where you have to religiously click UNSUBSCRIBE if you don’t want the emails reproducing like wet Mogwai who you fed after midnight.

Signal to noise ratio. That’s the problem.

There’s too much noise in modern society and not enough signal. Also, the plethora of signals available thanks to the commoditization of the internet mean that too often everyone is surrounded by microcosms of opinions that are just like their own. Everyone is stuck in their own little personally-nuanced echo chambers that distort our reality and make us think things like there is no way that guy could ever be President and tell themselves lies like “Oh he’ll never get sworn in. They’ll realize something illegal about him,” or “He didn’t even want to win. He’ll probably quit,” or “You know, he used to vote Democrat. Maybe this is all a ruse to get the Presidency and then he’ll get in office and actually be very liberal.” Yeah. Right.

So, yes, what I’ve veered into now is beyond just emails, and is actually inclusive of RSS feeds (if one doesn’t diligently subscribe to a variety of different voices to avoid the echo chamber effect), BUT emails are a key part of the commoditization of the internet. When we all first started blogging, it wasn’t about money. It was about having a voice in what was then a wild west of information. Now, it’s become a sea of advertisements. And they are all targeting you and tracking you and the majority of the emails that you receive (that aren’t from grandma or one of your coworkers who can’t convey what they want to in a text) are actually tied to the commoditized internet and are either trying to sell you something or pull you back in to read more things that they already know you like reading specifically so that your eyeballs will continue to see the advertisements they’ve sold alongside that content, which are also now presented based on things that they know that you’ve bought in the past.

And because of that: I highly recommend that we all unsubscribe from as many of the things as you can. Start with email lists. Start with deal sites. Start with Product Hunt. Start with Facebook. Start with your podcasts. Remove everything that reads or sounds too much like the thoughts you already have in your head.

Do that, and then start looking for other voices that are different. Don’t pick a lot of the same sort of different. Choose a variety. Read those for a week. Then add in a few of the ones that are more in line with what you already think. Have a healthy cornucopia of opinions and thoughts coming in. Then start your own blog. Or your own Twitter feed. Or however you think you can best broadcast what new thoughts you’re thinking from all that input and let’s start having some effective discourse again. Like we used to before we let ourselves be commoditized.

TUAW and Engadget #tuaw4ever

The saddest news about Aol. shutting down TUAW today is that TUAW has finally lost the battle against Engadget.

Don’t get me wrong. Engadget is great. Weblogs, Inc. was built upon the success of Engadget. Engadget was a blogging machine built by Brian Alvey, Jason Calacanis, and Peter Rojas after Jason successfully persuaded Peter to jump ship from Gizmodo and build a better Gizmodo. The audience followed Peter’s star power as an established gadget and technology blogger, Engadget started out-scooping Gizmodo, and it was a success. Weblogs, Inc was a machine of blogs built to feed off and grow the traffic that was contained by Engadget. Engadget linking to all the other sites legitimized those sites in Google’s eyes at the time and those sites all linking back to Engadget made Engadget even more relevant to Google and it started regularly beating Gizmodo and other tech sites in searches for keywords. “Sony released a new Vaio, let me research buying it before I go to Circuit City and pick it up.” User goes to Google, searches for “new Sony Vaio” and Engadget started becoming the first result. That structure, combined with a pack of some of the hardest working people I’ve ever known, is a very brief summary of what made Weblogs, Inc a success and an acquisition target in AOL’s eyes.

TUAW (and Joystiq, in a different way) was different. It was a site that at any moment could become irrelevant and absorbed into Engadget because it was another tech blog and a percentage of its posts were duplicative of posts on Engadget. However, (like Joystiq), TUAW was differentiated by a separate audience. A fanatical audience. People who liked to not think differently, but to think different. It was also not a professional blogging machine. It wasn’t just another tech blog. It was attitude. It was it’s own voice.

It was also farm league for Engadget. Barb was leaving TUAW in 2005 and on her way out, Jason, Judith, and Barb brought me in. As all of you know who know me: I am all attitude. I am opinionated. I am blunt. I am also playful. And so was TUAW. We weren’t chasing the pro-blogger thing. We were the other, slightly less loved kid, who often acted out.

That was unique. That’s what Aol. is killing today. #tuaw4ever

At least that’s my take. Take it for what it’s worth.

No more advertisements

I’ve had advertisements on this site forever. I just removed them. There’s no point. In any case, if you like the things I tend to write and do and you want to motivate me to keep doing these things / do them more often, I set up a Patreon page where you can become a patron.

Although, I must say, although I like the idea behind Patreon, I don’t like the execution much. It’s very inflexible. Why can’t I set up different types of patronage for different endeavors at different price points? Why is everything either recurring by month or recurring by thing created? Why is there no one-time tip jar option? Why is there no commission option? Why is the wizard to create your page soooo annoying that it makes me want to create my own version of Patreon in competition to it?


UPDATE: Added them back in 2017.