For a little over a year I’ve been a monthly supporter of the Internet Archive. I’m doing this because the Internet Archive is a very useful resource to me. Both to find back things I’ve linked to in the past, since taken offline but preserved in the Archive, and as a neutral way of providing proof something was said somewhere online at some point. You may have noticed that Wikipedia increasingly routes all their internal links through the Archive, because it preserves the linked site as it was referenced, thus maintaining the integrity and the verifiability of that reference.

This month I received a thank you mail from the Internet Archive, and in part it said….

Wait, what? They have only 4000 monthly contributors? For a global service like that? There must be more people out there able to make a monthly donation, that can help build a solid fundament underneath the Internet Archive. Especially if you use the Archive regularly as a tool, it is worth considering if you would like to make a recurring donation.

I see my own donation as a subscription rather, part of rearranging where I spent my money and changing some spending habits. In the past months I stopped spending money with Amazon if I can help it. Part of that flows to independent book sellers, part of it flows to independent online services I use, such as the Internet Archive. More deliberately ‘voting with my spending’ of sorts.

I’m in the process of migrating to a new Mac. It is proving surprisingly cumbersome to do so. The Migration Assistant I tried in peer to peer mode stalls as soon as one of the laptops (and then both) falls asleep, and does not resume when woken up. Giving it expects to take several hours to copy everything it isn’t viable to stay next to it just to keep both machines awake. I set both up to not fall asleep, but those are system settings within a user account it appears, and it logs out of those when doing the migration. I could migrate from my Time Machine to the new laptop, which also needs the Migration Assitant however, which loops me back to the falling asleep bit.

So I’ve decided to do the migration by hand. That’s actuallly not entirely unwelcome as it allows me to ignore the accumulated detritus of working on the old laptop for 7 years. It’s just a lot of work to think of how to copy over certain databases, licenses, settings of specific tools etc. It will have to happen in stages, and partly as needs arise.

All the software I intend to keep using is installed (Evernote nor Things are making the move with me). I’ve copied over my documents archive, and connected the new laptop to my Nextcloud cloud. Next steps are setting up my e-mail and calendar accounts in Thunderbird, and migrating my Alfred snippets. After those I’m good to go for working on the new laptop. Anything else is non-essential, and can be dealt with in stages. This includes image and music libraries, book collections, etc. It likely will be a good while until I’ve added the various tweaks and twiddles to reduce friction in my workflows, to mirror 7 years worth of tweaks on the old system.

From copyright infringement…
Last week I received a copyright infringement notice, which I didn’t see until today as it arrived in a mailbox I didn’t check while my laptop was away for repairs. Back in January last year I posted about a new word ‘Citrix traffic jams’ (traffic james caused by Citrix security issues, meaning usual home workers went to their organisations offices en masse causing a much bigger morning rush hour). I added a screenshot of the news article to my blogpost, showing the title with that novel term ‘Citrix traffic jam’.

What I didn’t pay attention to was the image on which that headline was superimposed. That image of course was made by someone, in this case the Dutch Pro Shots news photo collective. My screenshot was intended as a quote of that headline, but contained the full news image. For that I received an invoice last week. At 120,- Euros it wasn’t cheap, certainly not relative to this being a personal blog with very limited readership, but they are of course within their rights. After checking out the company functioning as an intermediary for the photographer to see whether it looked legit (the mail they sent was somewhat spammy, equating copyright infringement with theft which is total BS), I paid. Mea culpa. I paid only for the past use of the image, and not for further use, so I deleted the screenshot from my blogpost.

…to copyright claimant
Then I remembered that in the summer of 2019 I had come across the unlicensed use by a commercial news site of one of my images, an image of my late mother. My images are generally available under a Creative Commons License for non-commercial use that requires attribution and sharing under the same conditions. That wasn’t the case here (though they did attribute the image to me). So I sent them an invoice, which was never paid. A few days later, using I found several other news sites that had the same content, although they belonged to different commercial entities.
So, after paying my invoice for infringement, I have now created an account with Copytrack and submitted claims to three commercial sites for using my image in 4 different publications (there is another I remember, but I can’t find it back yet).

With a bit of luck, those commercial users of my image cough up enough to financially compensate for my mistake from a year ago.

Brexit seems to be affecting the birds in our garden. We have a bird feeder for which we periodically order seeds in 10kg bags. We order them through the Dutch national wild birds protection association. In the fall I noticed that our order was being shipped from the UK, and I wondered if anything might change by the end of the year. It seems it has.

Currently seeds can’t be ordered, first only for the big bags, now also for the smaller quantities. The Dutch birds protection association has a webshop which is run by Vivara. Vivara in turn is a brand name used by a UK firm CJ Wildbirds Foods Limited with two subsidiaries in the Netherlands, according to the company register. The UK facing webshop of CJ Wildbirds Foods offers the same products, but has no stock issues I see.

Phytosanitary rules, customs and VAT rules entering into force on January 1st are the most likely explanation.
The question now is if I can find a new supplier of similar bird seeds faster than CJ Wildbirds Foods can sort out the impact of third country regulations for exporting and shipping to the EU, or faster than the Dutch bird association finding a different supplier for their webshop.

Robin Sloan last month wrote about how newsletters should have seasons like tv shows. Peter Rukavina refers to that in the context of maybe closing up his online shop for letterpress artefacts for a while, something other than a newsletter entirely.

It made me muse about the general application of ‘seasons’ to any type of creative output. Newsletters, knowledge work in general, creation of artefacts, expression. It reminds me of the phases used to describe artist’s lives and work. “She was nearing the end of her blue phase when she met fellow painter X and started experimenting with a new work form.” Van Gogh’s work is described in the ‘Dutch phase’, ‘Impressionist phase’, ‘Arles phase’ and ‘Late phase’, spanning just a decade.

The word season has a rounded pleasant feel to it. Much better than the word phase, which in the context of projects evokes the notions of pre-planned milestones and stress before deadlines. Seasons has a much better fit with things like the natural flow of one’s interests, of (digital) gardening, where there’s a rhythmic change to your activities.

There are internal reasons and external reasons for thinking in terms of seasons for creative production.

Internal ones are about

  • building in rest, and treating rest as a fundamental part of your production process (which fits well with my notion of knowledge work as artisanal work).
  • an opportunity to reflect (mentioned by Sloan), to step back from the work in progress and take a look at the bigger whole in which it fits
  • avoiding the relentlessness that is buried within ‘weekly’, ‘daily’ and other preconceived rhythms, and which always after a while if conceived as ‘endless’ or having an end which is still far away becomes a burden. There is of course the juxtaposed notion of ‘not breaking the chain’. The latter is aimed more at getting the mental satisfaction of keeping up a streak, when the underlying tasks are more of a chore and not likely to provide that satisfaction. With creative production the satisfaction is likely more in the output itself, and then forcing the streak to continue may be counter productive, causing a rut that decreases the fun and satisfaction of production.

External ones

  • a sense of progress (mentioned by Sloan), of exploration. An exploration is always a temporary thing, before it morphs into something else again.
  • an opportunity to alter course (mentioned by Sloan), e.g. because your list of current interests, or current questions you hold has changed
  • a way to change the form of expression, which can bring new inspiration also if themes remain the same. Switching from writing haiku’s to photography, from consultancy to on-line training modules.
  • to embrace a natural end point or evolution, providing the ability to let go gracefully not as ‘I’ve quit doing/exploring that’, but ‘I moved to doing/exploring this’. ‘Seasons’ lend themselves well to weaving them into your or other’s narrative.

Those last three fit well with combinational creativity, in all its three varieties of problem driven, similarity driven and inspiration driven approaches.

Seasons by Alphonse Mucha, public domain image, shared by Robson Epsig as CC-BY

There are well known North-American photographers who through city scenes, road trips and street photography documented eras, whose images capture what we think of as iconic. Do you know European photographers who did the same across Europe, as opposed to just nationally? Is there a European collective like a ‘Magnum’ equivalent, for instance?
I’ve started exploring the federation of European photographers.