Are you Just Seeing Things?

Pareidolia on Pinterest

Wikipedia: Pareidolia

Seeing pictures in images and even sounds. Like looking up at the clouds and seeing a whole zoo full of animals floating on by. Or, looking at the way your laundry has been piling up and seeing a face in the folds and layers of clothing. Or, looking into the darkness and spooking yourself out by being sure you can see something out there in the nothingness.

Look at something and see if you can find an image out of the random lines, shapes and shadows.

Ecard Writing Tips from SomeEcards

Tap into a jarring thought, a complex emotion, a contradictory behavior, an absurd scenario, or a general societal observation – however rude, embarrassing, or illegal. Try to not make your card as overwrought and pretentious as the previous sentence. Make every word count. The key is that your sentiment rings true, but also feels like something people haven’t quite heard before.

Let the image help tell the story – a glance, outfit, time period, unexpected pairing, odd gesture, or age can do wonders to elevate a well-crafted dick joke.

Keep your card to one sentence with no question marks or exclamation points. This is a general rule of the site for the sake of compactness and consistency. Rules can be fun!

Do a gut check on whether it’s “sendable.” Would someone want to receive your card? Will they “get” it? Will they read too much into it and think the sender is desperately unhappy in his or her job or relationship with them? If you answered “yes, “yes,” and “I’m an unemployed loner” then it’s probably fine.

If you love your card right away, something may be horribly wrong. Take a break, then come back to reevaluate. Is your card clear in its intended message? Is it a mind-blowingly profound insight on the human condition? Is it sort of funny? Maybe run it by a few friends to check. Then edit the words or image for a long enough time span that you can’t even remember what you’re doing or why. Continue this until you confidently admire your card or start feeling incomprehensibly alone in the universe. That means you’re done!

-Brook Lundy, co-founder & head writer

via Writing Tips | someecards.com.

Rules of a Creator’s Life from CreativeSomething.net

If you can’t see the image file for any reason, it says:

Rules of a Creator’s Life

2011/ 12 Edition

  1. Do more than what you’re told to do.
  2. Try new things.
  3. Teach others about what you know.
  4. Make work into play.
  5. Take breaks.
  6. Work when others are resting.
  7. Always be creating.
  8. Make your own inspiration.
  9. Love what you do, or leave.

Via CreativeSomething.net

Turn Posts and Categories into Faux eBooks

Lorelle on WordPress has created images in her sidebar to link to favourite, popular posts and categories in her blog.

But, she has made the images look like more – I thought they were going to be ebooks she has written. Did you think the same (if you have seen them) too?

Could you do the same? Think about the posts which tend to get the most traffic from your older posts and rewrite the titles as an ebook title. Then create a little image file. Then pull up the posts you wrote and loved, the ones you thought would attract readers but just never took off. Dust off the dust bunnies and give them another chance. Do the same for your prime/ important category or categories.

Put a selection of the images in the sidebar, together. Keep them uniform in size and colour, etc. So they look like a set and will all seem to be something you did intentionally rather than random links to other sites or ads.

I bet you will get more clicks on them. I clicked on them in Lorelle’s blog sidebar because I thought they would be an interesting ebook to download and read.

What NOT to Do

Sometimes people do things they haven’t really thought through. I’m not immune to it. But, we should learn from the mistakes of others, especially the really bad mistakes.

Here are two I’ve come across recently:

I get a lot of these. The irony being that my contact form states pretty clearly that I don’t want guest posts. The reasons I don’t want guest posts are illustrated pretty clearly in this (above) image cut and pasted from my email account. Would you be interested in a guest post from this person?

Not only are there errors which spellcheck would have caught, but, this email is a duplicate to countless others I have received. They can’t read my note about guest posts – or choose to ignore it. They can’t write or spell. They do seem to love sending duplicate content however. So, I think this is a pretty glaring example of what NOT to do when asking to guest post.

Maybe it’s time to rethink your support plan when you give people a link claiming to be support but make it “noreply”. I do like the PHP Link Directory software and I want to consider doing more with it, but… this email promoting their new version wasn’t too smart. Yes, they give me links to follow but… I don’t want to follow links, I want to email someone. Unfortunately, not being able to email someone makes me feel they are very hands-off when it comes to support. This IS a BIG problem for me.

I don’t want customer support that sends me links to watch videos, or links to create a support ticket and get in line to wait for the auto rely… I want a human being to answer my email. I don’t mind if they take a few days to get back to me. However, in this case, there is no support. This is another example of what NOT to do when providing customer support.

Working on Excerpts, Thumbnails and Teasers

I’m back to figuring out how to get my images to load with excerpted post with this blog (running Thesis) as easily as they do with Clear Line on my other blogs.

With Clear Line I just add the image into the post, click to make it the featured image and then click to add it to the post. That is all. Clear Line takes care of all the behind the scenes thumbnail, excerpt/teaser stuff. I love it. The image is sized for the excerpted post without me typing in a thing extra. I’d like to know how it works so I could make it work here. So far I’ve made progress, but it is still wonky compared to Clear Line.

I still like Thesis, this is not bashing the theme,  just looking for a solution to a small problem.

So far I’ve used two plugins to try to get where I am with Clear Line via Thesis. The results are imperfect. But, at least the images are showing up now. Also, the Regenerate plugin went back and fixed the old images (a great thing with over 1,000 posts here).

Thumbnail for Excerpts

allow easily, without any further work, to add thumbnails wherever you show excerpts (archive page, feed…).

Regenerate Thumbnails

allows you to regenerate the thumbnails for all of your image attachments. This is very handy if you’ve changed any of your thumbnail dimensions (via Settings → Media) after previously uploading images.

Addendum: I ended up adding some custom code and now things are working, not exactly as I planned but better than they were yesterday. Using this code the thumbnails come up without me adding extra code, typing the image URL in or anything else. I just pick the image I want as the featured image. I can set the image size in the WordPress Settings Media section. The code I’m using includes CSS to add space between the image and the text – that was something I couldn’t find at all but really wanted too.

Addendum 2: I found a site called Thesis Customization and a post about using thumbnails on Thesis which suggested Thumbnail for Excerpts AND explained how to use it with CSS code to modify it. This is what I am now using.

I also found Web Training Wheels which finally helped me understand what I needed to do to use thumbnails on Thesis. Even though I know what I was doing wrong before I’m sticking with the customization I picked up from Thesis Customization. It’s simpler than remembering not to click “Add Image to Post”.

Resources for Clear Line:

Important Tip for Content Curators

My biggest and most important tip for digital content curators is… don’t get sloppy!

  • Pick an image to go with the content and make sure it’s the right one, suitable. If not, don’t use an image.
  • Use the site name, give the site owner credit for the content you are curating. Don’t add your own keywords in place. That’s sloppy, ungrateful and *sploggy!
  • Add a description, especially if there is no image to give some explanation about the link, it’s contents/ purpose.
  • Add a title. A real title, not keywords or Twitter hashtags.
  • Check spelling and basic grammar. Don’t use too many short forms, it makes you and your content look sloppy and cheap.
  • Don’t just add anything. Use some discrimination, add quality content, not quantity.

* Splog – A spam blog. A blog existing to run ads, offering no content of it’s own.

Rephotography

Rephotography is the act of repeat photography of the same site, with a time lag between the two images; a “then and now” view of a particular area. Some are casual, usually taken from the same view point but without regard to season, lens coverage or framing. Some are very precise and involve a careful study of the original image. Long a technique for scientific study, especially of changing ecological systems, it became formalized as a form of photographic documentary in the middle 1970s.

via Rephotography – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Could you find an old postcard or other photograph of your town, street or some area and create a ‘then and now’ rephotograph? I think getting the position just right would be tricky and take some real patience, likely several practice shots before you could hit it just right.

Other places to find rephotography:

Flickr: Rephotography
Flickr: Now and Then
Flickr: BBC Turn Back Time
Flickr: Paris Then and Now
Flickr: Vancouver “Then and Now”
Design Observer: Views Across Time
Thomas May Photography: Then and Now
Retronaut: Rephotographing St. Petersburg
Wired: Gadget Lab: Camera Software Lets You See into the Past
Web Designer Depot: Then and Now Portrait Photography by Irina Werning
Fourmilab: The Craft of “Then and Now” Photography

Keep an Image in your Sidebar

Even if you don’t use an image with each post you should have some kind of image on your site that represents you (and your site).

I’ve been working on Scoop.It (and lately on Snip.It too) as a content curator for a few topics. One thing I have noticed is how often I can’t get an image to go along with the post I’m making. When there is an image with the post I’m linking to I can usually add it to the post I create. Sometimes the only images which come up are nothing relevant, or just a link to the site’s page on Twitter, Facebook or other social media. Not something which illustrates the post they have made. As a last resort I will use the site’s own graphic for link backs rather than have no graphic/ image at all.

It should be simple enough to stick up an image which lets people link back to your site. Whether the image is used to link back to your site in a list of links or to link back to a specific post being referenced, it helps to draw the eye of readers when you get a link from another site.

Just add the image to your sidebar. You can add the code to link back to your site, or have it linked to your About page. There are other good options but those are the two I thought of first.

If you’re curious… these are the topics I’m curating at the moment. Subject to change as I weed out my ideas, focus on the topics I really want to spend time on and see which of them generate interest in others/ readers. Nothing is so simple as just collecting content to please yourself. I think we all need to keep our ideas growing and we all look for that tiny smattering of applause in some form.

Scoop.it:

Rural Exploration
Urban Exploration
Creative Writing Inspiration
ASCII Art

Snip.it
I’m working on personal interest ideas on Snip.it. They aren’t as developed as I’d like yet but Snip.it is growing on me and, as a site to work with, they are great. Very interested in performance, ideas and the people who join up. It’s a small network that could become important if they can keep it from the sploggers and others like them.