Claims of technical death are always overrated, but in the hell mell rush and glee for the synthetic cartoon garish sadly robotic “style” of generative AI imagery I for one remain thrilled by the small acts of thanks.

These acts are “generated” from the closing in (if I can catch up on the backlog) of some 72000 photos I have shared under predominately CC0 in flickr since 2004. The burst of microjoy is when a message like this hits the inbox:

I wanted to thank you for putting images on Flickr’s public domain. It’s so helpful to others who are in need of images. I used one of them today and wanted to share the post with you: 

email from Amy Camp

if I am summarizing as I do with my human eye, Amy consults and writes about “trail towns”, communities and trail tourism. For this post she made use of this photo taken on a long ago visit to colleague Mariana Funes, who took me on a walk with her dog and introduced me to a neighbour, Malcolm.

As Neighbors Do
As Neighbors Do flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

As I remember it, Malcolm allowed walkers and school kids in the community to “trespass” on his land — his expression was a genuine “The world’s made better by sharing.”

Despite that many people don’t really give flickr much of a fair shake (it’s 21 web years old and has never broken its own API) a very subtle feature of a link to a single photo is you can navigate forward and backward in time from there, like a time stroll, to see what else was photographed the time around it.

So I can enjoy the smile of this fine person I met

Farmer Malcolm
Farmer Malcolm flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

and also recall that fine stick chasing spirit of Colin, aka Gif-a-dog

Colin Wants the Big Stick
Colin Wants the Big Stick flickr photo by cogdogblog shared into the public domain using Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)

I just have to again mention my fascination with the CC0 public domain dedication (see Nate Angell, I know better than to call it a license). Most creators avoid it like “that means anyone can take my stuff and make a million dollars on it” thinking of Creative Commons not as a vehicle to enable sharing, but wanting it to be some cloak of protection.

But worse, I read again and again when people “teaching” or “training” about open licenses as describing public domain or all the stuff from Unsplash/Pexels/et al like “you can use it for free and you do not even have to give attribution.”

I will argue to my last non ChatGPT authored breath that that is a minimum condition- why would you ever not choose to attribute the use if some other’s work? It offers a means for a reader/viewer to find related works, but more importantly, attribution is a means of saying thank you. It’s human gratitude, not just license compliance, that matters. Or–

My motto is ABA- Always Be Attributing — whether I “have to or not” and even if I am attributing garish synthimages of robots on horses. It’s a small crowd, of like maybe, none, who go along with that.

So I go back to Amy who found and used my image. She could have grabbed, downloaded, and moved on to writing. But she not only took the effort to attribute the image (see the post) but she tracked down my email and sent a message of thanks.

That’s the web I came here for.

Featured Image:

I *am* a Professional Photographer
I *am* a Professional Photographer flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at 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. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as


  1. Always Be Attributing,… We need Alec Baldwin (or a synthetic Alec Baldwin) to reprise that monologue from the movie version of Glenngary Glenn Ross with: Always Be Attributing as the catch phrase. And may be just a tiny bit less sweary-ness.?

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