How not to provide feedback

Justin Williams on how you shouldn’t be a dick just because you’re on the Internet, or how not to provide feedback to just about anyone who has poured in heart and soul into their work:

Here is a tip for all the non-developers out there. When you email your favorite developer with a feature request or bug report never, ever, ever use the word useless to describe their product. Useless is kryptonite to developers and puts us on the defensive instantly…

The Internet makes it really easy to be a jerk to someone because you don’t have to insult their product to their face and can instead shoot it off to an email address in the sky without any idea or care about who is on the other end.

Pulitzer-Winning Photojournalist Slams World Press Photo Awards

Pulitzer-winning photojournalist, and winner of several World Press Photo Awards (19751, 19862) slams the selection of the 2009 World Press Photo winners:

The World Press Photo of the Year is stunning for its lack of content or any other journalistic values. The jury’s selection is yet another setback for a profession that is already in deep trouble. If that was the best of the best, they should have made no selection at all, and I’m hoping next year will bring a more professional group of jurors.

‘The photo shows the beginning of something, the beginning of a huge story,’ jury chair Ayperi Karabuda Ecer said of the photo. Right. Well how about showing pictures of the story itself, and there were plenty of powerful images from the Iranian protests, if that was what they wanted to show.

A fellow photographer said it was like seeing a photo of Paul Revere putting on his shoes before his midnight ride. There are those of us who still want to see the ride, not the’haunting and eerily prescient’ prelude.

Kennerly further elaborated in a later comment:

To further amplify my thoughts on the Photo of the Year… This is nothing personal about the photographer who won, he was there, and I admire him for it, but in my estimation there were other way more worthy photographs. If you just scan the other categories, there were ample opportunities to choose a great photograph from among them.

If the judges wanted to recognize Iran upheaval coverage, they had only to look at AFP photographer Olivier Laban-Mattel’s 2nd place Spot News Story for a winner. He was right there on top of it, wide angle in hand, putting his life on the line, and has fantastic photos to show for his courage. Any of his were better than what was chosen, and oh yes, they told the story, as opposed to being some ambiguous moment taken from afar of people doing who knows what on the top of a darkened roof above Tehran.

And there were many other strong contenders among the other categories’Charles Ommanney’s wonderful Obama photo as he waited, eyes closed, to make entrance for his swearing-in, Julie Jacobson’s dying Marine in Afghanistan, David Guttenfelder’s soldiers under fire, Walter Astrada’s bloodbath in Magagascar, and on and on. The photos were there, honored as winners in the specialized categories, but overlooked by a jury who might as well have been judges from another planet.

About time someone spoke up on the quality of the awards.

Missing the point

Russian chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov muses about chess and computers:

The moment I became the youngest world chess champion in history at the age of twenty-two in 1985, I began receiving endless questions about the secret of my success and the nature of my talent. Instead of asking about Sicilian Defenses, journalists wanted to know about my diet, my personal life, how many moves ahead I saw, and how many games I held in my memory. I soon realized that my answers were disappointing. I didn’t eat anything special. I worked hard because my mother had taught me to. My memory was good, but hardly photographic… It’s the equivalent of asking Lance Armstrong how many times he shifts gears during the Tour de France.

Garry’s comments resonated strongly with me as I recall how many beginning photographers would obsess themselves over what f/stop, which lens, what camera model, what lighting setup was used to achieve a great photograph. More often than not, these factors have little to do with what made the photograph great in the first place.

A Classroom Divided

Watch A Classroom Divided

Jane Elliott, a teacher in a small, all-white Iowa town, divided her third-grade class into blue-eyed and brown-eyed groups and gave them a daring lesson in discrimination.

Every student should go through this lesson.

Why many photo-sharing sites and communities stink

Petteri Sulonen is right on the money:

I used to participate on Photosig, but I learned to hate it. It exerts a huge pressure of blandification — shooting for the lowest common denominator. Flowers, bug macros, anal-retentive “figure studies,” golden-hour landscapes, pouty soft-focus “glamour” ladies, you name it — every photographic cliché ever invented is celebrated there on a daily basis.

My advice would be: steer clear of Photosig like the plague, if you want to retain a modicum of individuality in your photography. If you’re strong enough to resist the temptation of starting to shoot for thumbs-up, you don’t need the affirmation anyway — and if you’re not, you risk your artistic integrity and individuality (yes, you do have it).

When I found myself shooting a sunset by the sea and thinking “this’ll score me a few thumbs,” I quit cold turkey.

See his five-page (it’s not that long, actually) analysis on why sites like photoSIG doesn’t do good to your photography, and why you should use Flickr instead.

Flickr doesn’t actually get you any better critiques than photoSIG or any other photo-sharing sites or forums—unless of course if you consider one-liners or those it’s-not-sharp-enough comments useful—but at least the networking aspect of Flickr is tremendously useful for anyone wishing to make a break into photography.

Double standards

Jason Panthera on the government’s rationale not to repeal the 377A because a majority of Singaporeans did not want to.

Governments are elected to do what is right, not just what is most popular – otherwise, we wouldn’t have taxes, we wouldn’t have Electronic Road Pricing and there would be no National Service.

I wasn’t expecting anything interesting from yet-another-foreigner-who-decides-to-leave-Singapore story, but here it is.