Chuq Von Rospach is a Silicon Valley veteran doing Technical Community Management and amateur photographer with a strong interest in birds, wildlife and landscapes. My goal is to explore the Western states and working to tell you the stories of the special places I've found. You can find out more on the About Page.
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Monthly Archives: September 2008
While some people may have called you an impatient fan that doesnâ€™t understand the â€œnuancesâ€ of the game, new Sharks coach Todd McLellan says youâ€™re right.
McLellan has the numbers to prove his point. In studying the statistical charts from 2007-08, one number popped out at him: shots taken by defensemen. Detroit, the best team in the league, had more than 800 shots from the blue line. Sharks defensemen took only 536 shots.
I know I’m opening up a can of worms here, but…
He is right. The Sharks are too passive on the blueline on the power play (but how often have we had a serious quarterback of the PP on the blueline? When you’re throwing forwards back there, you’re admitting you have a problem).
But.. .the fans don’t get it right all the time, either. Common occurences in San Jose (and other arenas) that I see include:
yelling SHOOOOT when the defenseman has his shooting lane blocked by a defender; if they shot, it’d be blocked. If it’s shot and hits the defenders shinpads, there’s a good chance it goes for a breakaway the other way.
yelling SHOOOOT when the player has the puck in his skates, with his face to the boards and back to goal and a defender on his butt. Now, how in the heck is he supposed to shoot, anyway?
yelling SHOOT when the player is behind the goal line…
Do the sharks need to shoot more on PP? definitely, especially on the blueline, but it’s not really about shooting the puck. It’s about being more aggressive about getting the puck at the net. Shooting the puck into a defender for a turnover isn’t a smart tactic, but you’d never know that from listening to some fans.
Of course, when the sharks DO shoot it and it does hit a defender and go out of the zone, the fans boo….
Unfortunately, getting 17,00 fans to yell “move laterally and stop standing there, you idiot” at the same time is rather hard… Maybe the guys in the both can do a graphic to help….
(and congrats to Kukla on the new site and Mike chen for joining the KK family, but more on that later…)
So back to deleting – sorry – Iâ€™ve gotten off target a little here. Without exception, every time Iâ€™ve gone back to do an edit – whether itâ€™s after a 15 minute break, a 15 hour brake, a 15 day break or a 15 month break – my view of what images matter has dramatically changed. So much so – that I just canâ€™t justify deleting images (unless theyâ€™re completely out of focus, or over exposed or under exposed beyond recovery (but hey – who knows what software theyâ€™ll write in 20 years that could potentially fix those images – you see where Iâ€™m goingâ€¦???)
Think about a lot of the classic images we look at that were shot 20, 50 or 100 years ago – while some are true classics, letâ€™s be honest: some of them really werenâ€™t that spectacular at all when they were shot. But with time – even the most banal image – is fascinating to look at. I love to look at what people were wearing in the 1920s or what the streets looked like in New York City, how the signs in front of stores were hand painted etc. And the same will be true of what youâ€™re photographing today – thatâ€™s a lesson my father taught me very early on – and one that Iâ€™ve never forgotten – and a big part of why I donâ€™t delete anything if I can help it.
I’ve been meaning to get to this issue for a bit, and finally getting there. It’s a tough call.
I find myself on the other side of this fence for the most part, and the reality of the “keep it in case” mentality has really struck home recently.
As I’ve mentioned, my dad died in June, and I’ve been very involved with helping Mom get set up to move forward living alone and getting the estate issues worked out. I’ve also taken on the responsibility for going through and figuring out what to do with Dad’s stuff. This has involved multiple trips down to LA. Last trip down, I spent two days going through and clearing out dad’s office, pulling together his papers and the family photos, and throwing out all of the crap.
Dad was, shall we say, a bit of a packrat, and I say that with the greatest fondness. The rule was, nobody went into dad’s office, and dad’s clutter didn’t attack the rest of the house. It worked for everyone. By the time I was done, my car was full (for the second time) of boxes of papers, photos and stuff, we’d put some stuff in the garage, my sister had taken some, we’d given furniture to friends and others — but most of the office was on the driveway, where the nice 800-Got-Junk people hauled it all away; we filled about half the truck
How’s this relate to photography?
Today’s “disk is cheap and getting cheaper” mentality lends itself to this pack rat mentality. Keep it, in case it’s useful later. You never know.
The problem with is that it doesn’t just have to exist, it has to be findable. If you keep everything, then you’re putting a lot of strain on the filing and organization system to help someone dig through the masses of material. And chances are, your filing system isn’t up to the task. Which effectively leaves behind an opaque mass of bits. One that depends on someone having the time, energy and motivation to find things in it.
Chances are that won’t happen. Think about the reality of what happens after someone dies. One of three things is most likely to happen:
1) it all gets stuffed in boxes to be dealt with “later”. Later may well be the grandchildren, great-grandchildern, or some random person dealing with the estate because someone had to. The chances they’re going to dig through everything in every box looking for hidden treasures, vs. grabbing a few key things in a few boxes and sending the rest to Goodwill or the dump?
2) that happens, only it happens right away. The relatives come in, grab a few things they want, and then the rest “goes somewhere” and everyone moves on.
3) someone actually takes the time to go through and figure out what’s worth keeping and what isn’t.
Do you really want to depend on (3)? Even if people start with the best of intentions, it’s a lot of work, and it’s difficult. I’m second-guessing myself constantly, so I’m taking it slowly and I’ve been thinking this through on how to do what we decided we wanted (which is to make sure we create collections of stuff that are relevant and interesting to family members and friends and get those to them, and focus mostly on what helps us remember dad and the family moving forward — effectively re-editing the collection into one that honors our memory of dad, instead of being a collection of stuff dad thought was important. It’s a significant shift in intent, but one that helps us keep that which has meaning to us)
I’m about five boxes in, with 20ish to go (and four feet of photo albums staring at me). I’m trying to finish up most of it by christmas, but it’ll be a challenge (and there is still the garage to clean out, and a storage building. I’m expecting most of both to make the 800-Got-Junk guys happy, but we’ll see).
Having to come to grips with how to — effectively — curate my dad’s effects has had me thinking about what I leave behind, and how to structure my stuff so limit this kind of thing. And the photo is a part of that.
I started a project last January to revamp my photo library from scratch; took me four months, learned a lot, pulled a lot of crap from the library, as I’ve gotten to be a much better photographer in that time. My flickr collection went from ~4000 images to about 1100.
I do actually cheat somewhat in my “delete early and often” strategy, though. I delete the dings and bad photos, because I simply can’t see the utility of an out of focus bird picture, no matter what technology does to the workflow in the future (any technology improvement that can save a bad picture is probably better used to make a good photo even better!)
But there’s a huge chunk of my photo set that aren’t dings, but aren’t really all that interesting, too. So these are now being archived into their own library. My workflow is set up to add basic metadata to them, but then they get sent off to a hard disk to live, where I fully expect nobody will ever look at them again. I currently have about 12,000 files in my “archive” library, and about 2,500 in my “primary”. Ultimately, that secondary archive will be stored somewhere (two copies, two locations), and every so often refreshed to a new disk, and ultimately, I expect to have multiple disks of archived photos…
But in reality, when you “Think about a lot of the classic images we look at that were shot 20, 50 or 100 years ago”, the chances are those images are going to be found in that smaller, primary library. The chances of an image coming out of the “not quite dings” archive to go on to be classic is tiny — if only because someone has to be motivated enough to find it.
By doing this kind of edit yourself, you set up the roadmap for others who might go looking later to make finding that classic image easier. More than that, you make the job that much easier for others. If I toss you a disk with 15,000 images on it, that’s going to be a lot more overwhelming than one with 2,000.
Digital photography and current camera technology makes it a lot easier (and cheaper, and faster) to take many more photos than the days of film. Current computer technology makes storing them easier and cheaper. All of this encourages us to think in terms of “keep it, just in case”. But when you step back, it’s not about storing it, it’s about finding it and using it. If you can’t find it, you can’t use it.
And making something findable is the tough part, not something we’ve found a way to automate well yet. It’s about good organization, good metadata, and keywording it well. Another aspect of being able to find something is to not clutter things up with a lot of stuff that makes it hard to find the better stuff.
That makes me think that over time, we’re going to realize that editing and deleting is a key component to managing a photo library. The only reason I’m keeping that secondary archive is that I’m not yet confident enough to have the guts to toss it — but just like my first round of edits to my collection I did at the start of the year, I expect I’ll keep doing collection edits as I continue to improve my craft, and more and more photos will be archived — and more and more will get outright deleted.
Just as I’ve done with the photos from dad, wher I’ve taken four boxes (so far) and edited them down to a few hundred of the best and most relevant. Because the reality is if I just kept the four boxes around, eventually the most likely result is that someone will pull them out of storage and throw them out — and the best would have been thrown out with them.
By deleting, you may occasionally lose an image that might have some value to someone some day. but the most likely reality is that any image that has that value you as a photographer will recognize also. By focusing your collection on those best images, you increase the chances of those best images to survive into the future, by making it easier for you to manage and find them, but also by making it easier for others who follow you to do so, too.
So if you ask me, deletion is a skill that our current technology discourages — but in reality, we should be embracing. Just because disk is cheap and we CAN keep every image doesn’t mean every image deserves to be kept. And by keeping them, you cheapen the overall value of the collection and make it incrementally harder for the best images to stand out….
â€œUtilityâ€ doesnâ€™t automatically mean value. Take for example the pointless images of corny objects that Facebook folks pay $1 a pop for so they can send them to their Facebook friends. These are freaking images weâ€™re talking about, and not even good ones at that. Maybe Apple could tap into this market – theyâ€™d make a mint selling digital goods of even more limited utility.
And now Iâ€™m thinking about all the retarded apps available for our Macs. Take for instance: Eyeballs. Two eyes that sit on your menu bar and watch your cursor move around. Real useful there. And Iâ€™m loving this pointless called USB Cat: it makes cat noises when you plug in or remove any USB device.
Is it perhaps the offensive content that bugs Apple? That could be the real reason, judging how they yanked a comic book that had excessive violence. Maybe the fart joke was deemed similarly crass and offensive. But I donâ€™t think they have a leg to stand on there, either, since the iTunes Movie store has some content of extremely dubious taste. Whatâ€™s worse, pull my finger or a blind man fingering a baked potato?
Jason does a good job of illuminating the issues that you get involved with when you start dealing with the slippery slope defined as “value”. It’s a good follow-on to my discussion yesterday on the whole Fart-joke-iphone issue.
but I think it’s crucial to clarify one aspect of this and give it some perspective.
Is it perhaps the offensive content that bugs Apple? That could be the real reason, judging how they yanked a comic book that had excessive violence.
We need to remember that when we say “Apple did this”, what we REALLY mean is “someone who works for Apple did this” — and we have a tendency to look for the worst possible reason for a decision being made.
It’s very possible — perhaps likely — that the reason something like the $1000 worthless App made it through into the store and the cowbell app made it while the fart joke app didn’t is because different people made those decisions. Not a great, grand conspiracy, but multiple people on a team making judgement calls based on their understanding and interpretation of whatever rules and standards were set up for them.
Apple isn’t a thing, or a place, or a person, it’s a very large company with tens of thousands of employees, all of whom are working their asses off and doing the best they can.
What can look like a grand conspiracy can also be explained away by having two or three people making judgements on things — and even using the same basic standards, making different decisions in specific cases. And in a situation like the $1000 worthless app, when the controversy starts, it obviously gets bumped up to a higher level of management, who second guesses the original decision. Oh, sorry, they take a second look at the situation and make a judgement call based on their understanding of the situation (and who’s yelling loudest). Which may or may not back the original decision, and which may or may not cause Apple to look inconsistent. Which it sometimes is.
But not because it’s evil or trying to shape the universe or dominate everyone’s thoughts and activities, but because that’s how real life is when you have a group of people working on a common task that requires interpretation. Heck, I’m not always consistent from day to day when there’s only one person involved…
The way to solve this is (going back to what I’ve been harping on) communication: good, well-written documentation and standards, internal training and discussion, external communication and explanation. And they’re not doing a great job of it right now, which opens them to criticism and second-guessing, and gives us excuses to assume the worst out of Apple, even though their track record is pretty good.
Unfortunately, we get back to the Apple Cone of Silence. They’re doing themselves no favors by not communicating here. 90% or more of the criticism would go away if people simply knew what to expect and how to solve mistakes when they happen; it’s the seeming arbitraryness of some of the decisions and changes that upsets folks. If people at least understood what to expect, they might not like it, but at least then they’d know and we wouldn’t have these unfortunate surprises that people rally around…