Wednesday, May 7, 2008

On embedded links and ticks

Last night I removed an embedded dog tick from my daughter's scalp. For an hour afterwards, I planned a blog post announcing that I was quitting geocaching forever, out of penance for exposing my children to harm. I went geocaching in Bloomington Sunday with Millah and LucidOndine and on the way home flicked four ticks off my own body. I assumed that she picked up a tick because I carried one into the house on my clothes.

But then I realized that she must have picked it up while she was doing somersaults in the grass outside the Roseville REI, and so for now geocaching need not be the fall guy.

I removed the tick with tweezers, gripping very close to the skin, pulling firmly and steadily. I verified that it was a dog tick and not a deer tick, verified that I removed the entire critter, and then cleaned the area with alcohol and killed the tick with alcohol -- and some gratuitous violence -- How dare you come into my house and attack my daughter like that?!

I have a small amount of tick experience: my wife and I celebrated our honeymoon in the spring of 2000 in the upper peninsula of Michigan, and I removed ticks from her on that trip. How romantic.

Is this what I have to look forward to during my first full Minnesota summer? My skin is crawling constantly. I think about ticks all the time. It hasn't been this bad since that unfortunate episode with chiggers when I was 15.

I have tentative spousal approval to go north for the MnGCA spring event the weekend of May 31. I haven't thought it out, though... nowhere to stay, no gear -- I sold it all or gave it all away when the kids came along -- and now I have this image of ticks up in the arrowhead driving their own pickup trucks and preying on soft city boys like me.

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Silent Bob owned me. I present this story as a public service to others who, like me, have blogging aspirations and good intentions but a lack of knowledge about copyright issues.

Last Wednesday I attended WeekNIGHT Caching: 4 year anniversary and met Silent Bob among others. He took a picture of a beer glass pyramid that he made. I expressed regret at not getting a picture of it, and he said that I could use the one he took. At issue here is what exactly "use" means.

First I'll tell you what I did. The technical term for what I did is GANK. I ganked his photo. I downloaded a copy of his photo from his Flickr site and re-hosted it from my Blogger site. I thought that was okay, as long as I cited the photo as being from SB.

It is not. It is my very good fortune that SB chooses to spend some small amount of time looking at my blog, because he noticed my error and kindly pointed out the proper way to cite ownership of a photo. Much better that an acquaintance do this than a complete stranger. Let me see if I can describe this correctly.

SB uses the Creative Commons license specifying Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works, which means roughly that I can use his photo, as long as I attribute it to him (in the way I'll describe below) and do not mash it up and do not use it for commercial purposes.

Instead of re-hosting the photo on my site, I should instead link to the original hosting site and state that the photo was originally uploaded by him. Look at the page source of the post in question for an example of how to do this.

(A quick question as an aside: I've heard the practice of linking to content offsite called "stealing bandwidth". Is this a lesser transgression than ganking the photo? I guess it is. That asked, I didn't gank the photo with that in mind. I just plain didn't know.)

I removed some other photos from my site and in the future I will either search for photos that carry the Attribution or Public Domain CC license or I will think about how a photo of my own may enhance my post. Time to clean up my cache pages, too.

SB also alerted me to this much higher profile version, on Aaron Landry's blog, of what I did. Interesting reading, especially in the comments, and especially if you're a reader of Boing Boing, which you probably are. Or should be.

So, a big public hats-off to SB for schooling me gently and introducing me to CC. It's about time I learned, because I encounter a lot of content in my academic job that is licensed under Creative Commons.

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Heading out to Chanhassen for Weeknight tonight. After I tried to intimidate everyone on the MnGCA forum mathematically, and Lucid tried to intimidate me as a moderator, we'll see who is more intimidating in person! It's on!