Oh flickr please…

After a lovely few days away in North Yorkshire I went back to my flickr account to upload the latest few photos. To my horror, yet more *sick* people had faved photos of my children, completely innocuous photos (to me), but not apparently to some.

When I checked on the (open) accounts of the people (unknown to me) choosing images of my children to take as their own favorites, I found page upon page of similar images – innocence suddenly turned into something ghoulish.

There has been a slow increase in the number of images being identified and ‘faved’, I am not so creeped out by the ones of my friends and family looking buxom (although it is a bit weird) – but when it is kids, in this instance my own – it causes a fury in me.

Now I suspect that I will be berated for innocently uploading all photos to flickr – ditching the dodgy camera angles and any photo of me with a double chin – but basically uploading the lot; with a sort of innocent mind (double chin being the main cause for pressing delete or private, but of course obviously *potentially dodgy* ones of the children too) – now I feel foolish and as if I have wantonly put up my own children for public consumption <- appreciate that I have. But not intentionally – but how can I be so stupid?

Two things

Two things bother me about this:

1. Why the hell is there not a report button on flickr that can alert someone… (er CEOP?) to those flickr accounts faving images of children, brazenly!

2. My stance on open data in government – I continue to wholeheartedly support this, but my disgust at the use of my own data by people I don’t know, for purposes I don’t endorse, leads me to hesitate… not sure why yet, I need to think about this…

Way more important than what I might think about cataloguing and freeing up data, is question 1. How can people who view images of children as sexually satisfying, even if it is simply a photo of them standing; openly identify, own and then re-use them without any fear of reprise?

I can hear the court defence argument now: there is no proof that this person – who collected a flickr album of pre-teens – was using the images for anything illicit…

It makes me very angry and it also makes me hesitate – again – in the work I do…

If paedophiles can operate so openly because of the transparency of the web, yet be protected by a variety of laws – how can we seriously blinker ourselves to the possibility that this might not stop at the crime of paedophilia?

I am so torn because I fundamentally believe in truth, and that spin should have no place in the protection of society – hence my passion for open data in government (not just politics). But if we open up our own personal data voluntarily – and then immediately become victims of our own mortal/personal enemies (i.e. those predators who hunt our families/children) – then how can I willingly endorse and attempt to enforce the opening of our country’s information?

I could lose, in both situations – catastrophically.

Before I go any further in my open support for freeing up data, I think that I am going to have to put my parental head on, and have a really good think about what practically we could do to apply intelligence to the data we make available (in all formats :)).

In the mean time, Steph Gray has a good post on the open data conversation, I am going to go and calm down (and work through years of flickr photos – making every photo of mine or anyone else’s children private).

I will come back to this in a few days.

It will end in tears

I hate the way people communicate at the moment. It is an orgy of self-indulgence, navel-gazing, gossip and muttering…

Cue everyone gulping and staring at Emma as if she has lost the plot

OK, my first sentences may have been strong but I feel lost in this Alice in Wonderland (after the pill – when she was small) world, and I am an expert in communication; I should be able to cut through the noise and find a direction for people, and create protocols that enable conversation without:

  1. wasting anyone’s valuable time, and
  2. pissing anyone off

But I can’t… I am struggling to find the way through. (I am obviously talking about digital media here, Twitter, Facebook, email, Bebo, Pownce, texting ad nauseum – so ignoring completely telephone, snail mail and F2F.)

What we seem to have enthusiastically entered into is an orgy of communication, braying with our own success, or craving the news of others every minute – sometimes second – of the day.

How many of you are eternally thinking up the next natty update? Or fail to relish any precious moment in our eagerness to share it across our personalised digital gob?

As ever, such delicious self-indulgence has a cost, and this cost is what I am currently pondering and trying to find the tools to mitigate… just for fun, of course 🙂

Take for example a story that was related to me by a close friend: A young lady was stepping out, often horizontally, with a fella. After a few dates he promised to call… and never did, prompting the bewildered maiden to call up her mate and declare his death – assuming that there could be no other reason for his sudden and complete silence. (He wasn’t he had just naffed off.)


But, it makes me think. All of our relationships are developed through communication – in person, on the telephone, through stories from friends and family, in texts, IM, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, &c &c &c

It is a primal instinct to communicate our needs to the person or people we deem most likely to be able to fulfil them, and the Darwinian theory of survival of the fittest dictates that we are programmed to be pretty good at this stuff… so what happens when we are able to SOS our needs to one person or many immediately, through – say – five hyper-efficient mediums (at least). Our expectation is that within seconds we will be satisfied – of course, it is Darwinian, it is the way the world works, right?

Nope, not the digital world, the theory of evolution is completely flummoxed by digital comms – communicating our needs is something that the highly evolved have nutted, very well – and that is good. Responding to the relentless demand for attention that these tools enable requires biological, human input. And that will never, ever compete with the eternal quest for survival that commands us to eternally communicate our needs and only when they are fulfilled, can we properly help others.

See the problem? We are forever SOS-ing, and in an eternal quest for resolution, yet rarely satisfied. Without satisfaction/peace we are not programmed to help anyone else (except superficially).

You see the problem I am picking at here?

I have no solution yet, but it is niggling me enough for me to share it with you and see what you guys have to say 🙂