I can’t help it. I notice something reading online, it triggers a vague connection in my old school neural network device and I cannot get on with quote unquote being productive until I emerge with something from the internet rabbit hole.

Notice the underlined, clickable words. Any idea what they do? (tangent).

Okay, it starts with the morning scan of Mastodon (the platform currently known as Mastodon, why do we do this?).

Derek Moore share something that triggered the click reflex, partly because I’ve known and followed Anil Dash since the web was a kid (he co-created the first blog platform I used, he currently steers one of the coolest new ones, and he was a major support when I need help keeping Feed2JS alive). Oops,I loinketh too much. This is the post by Derek that caught my eye:

Yes, part was curiosity to read what one of the pioneers and active users of blogs had to see. But it was also, that image in the post. I recognized it.

This I clicked to read The lost infrastructure of social media where Anil compares the valuable features of early blog platforms that have been consumed or possibly described by the 2023 Word of the Year. I will leave out the irony of where the founder of MoveableType current blogs (cough).

But that photo of the colorful tiles, repeated throughout the article… it’s very recognizable, right?

The medium post titled The Lost Infrastructure of social media with a photo at the bottom of repeated wall cover of pastel siding pieces, all diamond shaped. An arrow points to it with question, "I've seen this photo... where?"
https://medium.com/@anildash/the-lost-infrastructure-of-social-media-d2b95662ccd3

My memory was reading a story how this surface was the outer covering of building somewhere, I think an art studio (?), that had become very popular as a place for people to take Instagram selfies / portraits.

That should be easy to find, with search tools?

I tried “building with colorful tile exterior popular for instagram selfies” – nope, just got a bunch of various buildings and random instagram profiles.

Maybe take out “instagram”? See “building with colorful tile exterior popular for selfies” – even worse, all links to tips and articles about building materials.

A different tact, I tried a reverse image search (now known as Google Lens) on the image in Anil’s post, I got heaps of sites that had used the image but as usual for well used ones, finding any source of it could mean days of scroll clicking.

But wait a minute, partly down the first scroll or two was a link from some one I know, Maren Deepwell had used it in a blog post she wrote in 2021 on Joining Conversations for Equality, Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging (good choice of image as metaphor!). And being a good use of open licensed images, at the bottom of her post was an attribution to the image on Unsplash.

Photo by Andrew Ridley on Unsplash 

Attribution for image used in https://marendeepwell.com/?p=3087

Surely I can click a link and find the image. Isnt that handy that Unsplash provides cut and paste attribution?

Except…

The first link takes me to the author’s profile and catalog of Unsplash images. The second link takes me to an Unsplash search on a search for the words african colours. Neither link in this so called attribution takes me to the actual photo. In terms of Attribution Best Practices approach of TASL (Title, Author, Source, License), we are 1 for 4 with only an “A” (not in the terms of a grade).

The most important part of an attribution for me is the link to find the image. Unsplash makes it seem like they are supporting creators with this attribution practice, but they deliberately make it hard to find the specific image, you can guess what they want to do is draw you in to their site and click around to see more ads and paid content links.

I’m still determine, the link to the photographer’s profile Andrew Ridley indicates he has 55 photos there (sometimes a creator has hundreds or more). I can scroll through to find it… which I finally do locate — I would take the time to attribute this photo as:

Multicolored Tile Wall With a Pattern of Small Squares Unsplash photo by Andrew Ridley shared under an Unsplash License.

(noting that Unsplash does not display a title, you can pluck it from the source title page or the link URL)

So I found the source photo, or one of many you can find. But one detail I see that might help is that on the source image page, it includes a location – Stratford, London, United Kingdom.

Back to the searches I try using “Stratford” and “art studio” (the latter relying on my memory) art studio building stratford color tiles selfies I got stuff related to Stratford as a brand of building tile.

I then tried london with art studio building london color tiles selfies which set of the Ding Ding Ding bells of finding whatr I was looking for. Third item down was what I remembered reading, or actually hearing, as the story of this building was a podcast episode of 99 Percent Invisible on Instant Gramification (highly recommended listen/read).

Emerging From the Rabbit Hole Victorious, But…

I did find the carrot! And I griped a bit about Unsplash faux-tribution. More than that, this exercise demonstrates the futility of keyword search, maybe, or just shows that it takes more than that to find things.

So I wondered to, is this AI stuff the new deal? I went to Bing and entered a prompt:

I am looking for a story about a building covered in colorful tiles that has become popular as a background for Instagram photos. Where is this building and the article that described why this happened?

Me asking Bing

to which I got the wrong answer:

Certainly! The building you are referring to is likely the azulejo-covered buildings in Portugal. Azulejos are decorative tiles that can be found covering the facades of both medieval and more modern homes, restaurants, cafes, churches, shops, and train stations 1The tiles are called azulejos after the Arabic al-zulaich, meaning polished stone 1The art form was introduced to Portugal by the Moors, who had learned the craft from the Persians 1The Portuguese fell in love with the art form and used some of their wealth to decorate the walls, floors, ceilings, and facades of both their private and public residences in colorful, intricate azulejos 1.

I found an article on The Anthrotorian that describes the history of azulejos and why they are all over the buildings in Portugal 1. The article also includes stunning images of the tiles and their patterns. I hope this helps!


Learn More
1 theanthrotorian.com
2 britannica.com 3 britannica.com. 4 britannica.com

Bing’s wrong answer

Okay, bing, I’m gonna prompt engineer ya! I reply with:

No, this is not what I was looking for. I believe the building was an art studio, and the article I am looking for told the stpry of how it cam to be covered with the tiles and the phenomena of it becoming popular as a place for Instagram photos. Can you find the article and identify what the building is?

Me asking Bing

Back Bing comes with an apology and assurances of a right answer, but while it finds something interesting, this is still not what I seek

I apologize for the confusion earlier. I believe the building you are referring to is the Mosaic House in Chiswick, West London 1The house is owned by artist Carrie Reichardt and is covered from top to bottom in colorful mosaic tiles 1The house is a remarkable sight and has become an Instagram sensation 1The house is now an ‘uncensored’ public mural and is free to visit at any time 1.

I found an article on Secret London that describes the history of the Mosaic House and its political messages 1. The article also includes stunning images of the tiles and their patterns. I hope this helps!

Learn more
1secretldn.com. 2britannica.com. 3britannica.com

Bing is still wrong

Again, maybe its my poor skills in prompt engineering. And I could go back and prompt, prompt,. prompt and maybe it will get me what I seek.

It’s an interesting approach, but I find almost no adventure in it, and I am not really active in the search or applying any critical skills beyond rewording search words.

I prefer by rabbit holing tools, and I am going back in soon. Have fun at the prompt box.


Featured Image: EDUCAUSE Scopes flickr photo by cogdogblog (me) shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0) modified (by me) to include superimposed on the window Multicolored Tile Wall With a Pattern of Small Squares Unsplash photo by Andrew Ridley shared under an Unsplash License.

A small pair of binocuklars rests on a window will, superimposed on the window is an image of the colorful wall tiles mentioned in this post
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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

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