How to properly attribute photos in blog posts.

I have been struggling to find a quick and easy way, or a perferred format for crediting images that I use in my blog posts. After some searching, I stumbled upon these guidelines from +Creative Commons:

Examples of attribution

Here is a photo. Following it are some examples of how people might attribute it.
8256206923 c77e85319e n.jpg

This is an ideal attribution

Because:
Title? “Creative Commons 10th Birthday Celebration San Francisco”
Author? “tvol” – linked to his profile page
Source? “Creative Commons 10th Birthday Celebration San Francisco” – linked to original Flickr page
License? “CC BY 2.0” – linked to license deed

This is a pretty good attribution

Photo by tvol / CC BY
Because:
Title? Title is not noted (it should be) but at least the source is linked.
Author? “tvol”
Source? “Photo” – linked to original Flickr page
License? “CC BY” – linked to license deed

This is an incorrect attribution

Photo: Creative Commons
Because:
Title? Title is not noted.
Author? Creative Commons is not the author of this photo.
Source? No link to original photo.
License? There is no mention of the license, much less a link to the license. “Creative Commons” is an organization.

Best practices for attribution by Creative Commons is licensed under CC BY 3.0

The Importance of Sharing

The hardest part about sharing is finding the courage to do it.

We spend so much time during our petty existence worrying about our image. Some of us worry about sharing too much, sharing things that are too personal, or sharing things that others may not like. We feel that we have a duty to ourselves to create and preserve a certain image from which others will perceive us.

Although creating boundaries and maintaining a positive image are admirable traits, by censoring yourself, you deny yourself the opportunity to share your most important thing, you perspective. As I said on a recent post, no one can see the world like you do.

Two of the most important books that I always keep on my bookshelf are Life’s Journeys and The World According to Mister Rogers. Now, I know it may sound childish to some of you, but the concepts that Mister Rogers taught me at such a young age will forever shape who I am as a person.

One of my favorite passages from The World According to Mister Rogers is this,

“Discovering the truth about ourselves is a lifetime’s work, but it’s worth the effort.”

Each of us has a unique story to tell. Our perception of the world is shaped by the people with interact with, the situations we were born from the actions that we take throughout our life. As we continue to absorb more information, our decisions change over time. With the more knowledge that we accumulate, the better we are to reason, question and ponder issues that will shape the future for generations before us.

No matter what your opinion, whether it is left, right, or straight down the middle, you will never make an impact unless you share your thoughts and ideas. When we collaborate and exchanges these thoughts and ideas, we learn more about ourselves and apply the knowledge to making better decisions.

By sharing, you are giving someone else information that could completely change the way they see things. By sharing, you have the power to help people better understand themselves and the issues that we face in our overly complicated world today.

As you embark on the journey of sharing, you quickly learn things about yourself. You start to pay more attention to your inner dialog, you get a better understanding for the way that you think and process ideas. As you start to share these ideas, the transmission of them becomes much more fluent, and much more comfortable.

When you decide that censoring yourself, trying to preserve some artificial sense of anonymity or convince yourself that you can make an impact, it is finally time to tell your story.

Your story will develop over time. You will say things at one point that you will later disagree with. Each day, week, month, year and decade you will accumulate new information and a better understanding for the things you ponder every day. These experiences and this additional knowledge will shape your thoughts and perspective and allow you to paint a more complete picture later in your life.

However, as you learn and experience new things, it is incredibly important to challenge them, debate them and think about them. Expressing them openly is a great way to encourage others to discuss these matters with you. From those discussions you will form great relationships, some bonds which will last a lifetime, others which will whither away. However, from sharing your thoughts, your ideas, your arguments, your hypotheses and your experiences, you will allow someone else to see the world through your eyes.

The more perspectives that you are willing to view and the more shoes you are willing to try on, the greater understanding you will have of the world around you and the issues that matter to you most.

However, if no one shares their story, their thoughts, their opinions or their ideas, you will have nothing to think of other than your preconceived notions. Without additional information to change the way you think about things, you will be stuck in whatever mindset you already have.

By sharing, we enable each other to help make the world a better place, that’s why sharing is so important.

Special thanks to +Yonatan Zunger for providing the inspiration for this post. Had he not shared this earlier post (below), I would have been without the perspective I have today.


Don't Worry, Google+ Isn't Dead

Last night I was a bit puzzled when I came upon a breakdown of the interaction on my posts from 2013. The results weren’t in any way scientific and could possibly carry a certain margin of error (see the big gaping hole in my follower count?). Nonetheless, the folks at +CircleCount were kind enough to put together an immensely powerful tool that is second to none.

After reviewing my statistics, I started to review the statistics of others and realized that my numbers were down considerably compared to theirs. One of my favorite examples, +Paul Snedden, carried way more +1’s, comments and re-shares than I did (based on the number of followers). Paul’s raw engagement was only half of mine, but his follower count is less than 10% of mine. How could this be?

After being puzzled, I posted a thread on Google+ asking users if they were becoming bored of the network, or had noticed any recent in falloff in engagement. Plenty of people came armed with answers, suspicions and their two cents. There were some great analyses presented along with some profound comments (the post is embedded below).


The bottom line though is that there are plenty of people listening. In fact, there is so much more content being created that people have more to chose from. When the network looked like it was ebbing, it was actually flowing.

It turns out that Google+ is just following the footsteps of other social networks before it. The original “in crowd” gets grounded, sets up shop, brings the masses and then slowing recede away. In fact, I’m guilty of doing the same thing. I took a near 6-month hiatus earlier this year, only to come back more excited than I ever have been before.

Regardless of whether or not Google+ is or will continue to be successful, I want to make sure that I have a platform to catalog my ideas, my thoughts and my puzzles for you to put together. Posting them “in the stream” only creates the opportunity for them to get washed away and forgotten. Putting them on my blog where I can easily reference and organize them gives me hope that you will be able to come back, return and maybe even subscribe to these periodic rants.

Next year the game is going to change, though. I’m going to focus on sharing what’s important to me and how I think it can help you. One of those things, is usually Google’s free tools and services to make my life easier. It sounds hokey, and no I don’t get paid by Google to tell you any of this, but I have really found over the last year that by really adopting Google’s ecosystem and using the latest tools available (like my Android phone and Google Glass) I’m finding that everything is effortless, giving me more time to focus on the things that matter, like this blog.

I'm betting 2014 will be the year of long-form content.

Social media changed everything.

For a long time now, we have been conversing in short sentences. Curbing so many of our communications to under 140 characters, that some bloggers have taken to curbing their content as well, trying to hold onto whatever sliver of the American’s attention span that is left.

Do we all have ADD? Are we all incapable of reading a few paragraphs and getting through the entirety of one’s thoughts before forming our own opinions? Have we been reduced to exchanging memes and animated GIFs as each one of us tries to get wittier than the other?

At some point or another, it all needs to stop. We need to get back to what writers do best: sharing stories.

No, I’m not talking about the Cliff’s notes or the 15 second video. I’m talking about the 1,000 word essay, the 45-minute documentary, the high resolution portfolio that took months to perfect. I think it’s time for us to step away from the “quick and easy” and focus on investing some time an quality in the content we share.

The reason that so many of us create content isn’t because it feeds our family or keeps a roof over our head. The reason most of us create content to share freely is because we enjoy doing it. So what’s better than being the best at what you enjoy doing?

I think we are heading into a time where people focus less on the “idea of the moment” and start to hone in on the “concept that lasts.” Sure, we’ll still exchange puns and funny images that mock our popular culture, but those that are interested in creating things will focus less on the quick and easy, not so much on instant gratification but more on creating ideas and artwork worth spreading.

As everyone becomes an expert in “social media” the value of being a social media expert in cheapened. We have all figured out how to communicate with each other online. Some of us perhaps better than others, but we’ve all learned that creating an account, building a presence and carrying on a conversation isn’t all that hard. What’s really hard is creating a conversation that lasts.

I may be stepping out on a limb, but I really feel that this next year will be the year of carefully-curated, meticulously thought-of and passionately perceived long-form Internet content.

How to Get Things Done

Everyone likes getting things done. There is a simple but rewarding sense of gratification once you can mark something off of your list.

Take for example making your bed. You might say in your head, “oh I don’t see any sense in making my bed, I’m going to move all of the pillows and get under the covers anyhow.” In the morning when you have a million things to do, you might not realize the benefit of making your bed and consider it something that doesn’t really need to be taken care of.

My brother taught me something a while ago, if you make your bed every morning, not matter how bad your day was, no matter how little you are able to accomplish, or whatever setbacks you face, when you return home to your bed to retire, you will be rewarded with one thing where everything is in its place, pleasing and relaxing. You will be rewarded for your smallest investment and it may be your day’s greatest achievement.

Making your bed serves as a good example of what you can accomplish when you commit yourself to your goals. Keeping track of them, though is another story. If all you had to do every day was make your bed, brush your teeth, shower and go to work, you wouldn’t have much trouble keeping track of it. Unless you’re playing Will Farrell’s role in Stranger Than Fiction, that’s probably not the case, though.

In order to accomplish of the millions of things that we task ourselves with, we need to keep track of them.

We know that the human brain is powerful, in fact it is the most efficient computing device in the world, capable of of processing 2.2 billion megaflops on only 20 watts of energy. However, despite its efficiency, it isn’t always the most organized means of storage.

Sometimes we need to rely on ancient technology to tackle of some the hardest tasks.

What am I proposing? Taking a drastic measure. Uninstall your apps, ditch the Task manager in Outlook, stop fretting over your Gmail tasks not syncing with your phone and leave Evernote to tracking minutes from meetings.

What I am proposing is that you get a sheet of paper and a writing utensil and write down the things that you need to get done.

Image Courtesy of Betsy Weber by Creative Commons 2.0

Nothing will give you the satisfaction of getting things done better than taking a pen and striking a line through them as you accomplish them. As more of your tasks become completed, you will see your progress by the growing number of strike-throughs on your page. Unlike software, those completed tasks that you spent your time and effort on won’t simply disappear or transfer to your recycle bin, they will remain on the page as a visual reminder of your accomplishments.

As the page grows and more and more is crossed out, give yourself a pat on the back, you’re getting things done.

Getting all of the words in before…

Today I had some free time while we were out and about running errands. I spent the time listening to a few TED Talks hoping to gain some inspiration or learn something that I could apply towards something I am already doing. Although I didn’t come across anything earth shattering or mind bending, I did find a key takeaway from one of the talks about trying something different for 30 days.

In the talk, +Matt Cutts (a Google engineer) explains how easy and liberating it is to try something new for 30 days, but one of the ideas that he brought up was truly a novel concept: writing a book. According to Cutts, one of the hardest parts about this particular challenge was getting all of the words in every night (1,667, to be exact) before going to sleep.

Photo Courtesy Jeroen Bennink by Creative Commons 2.0

Now I won’t be hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro or biking 20 miles to work every day, but I think I want to take what I learned from this short talk and apply it towards my love for writing and sharing what I learn. Hopefully, if all goes well, every day for the next 30 days you should see a few paragraphs of ideas, suggestions and stories in my blog.

Keeping up with something (or anything) can be tedious. Our lives are already jam-packed with tasks, to dos and ever-increasing expectations from our employers and family. We need to be in 100 places at the same time getting 1000 things done before our heads hit the pillow. The problem with this lifestyle is that we don’t always get a chance to do what we love to do.

The 30 day challenge for me will be expanding by passion for writing by writing something new and engaging every day. It might not be the best collection of thoughts and ideas, but it will certainly be a consistent and thorough group of silly ideas, fun concepts and hard-learned lessons.

I hope you are looking forward to whats to come and help give me the encouragement I need to keep it going. Who knows? Maybe after 30 days I will find this is something I really love doing.

How to Make It Work: Getting Published

This week I interviewed +Evo Terra about books.

This morning I hosted a +G+ On Air hangout with publishing expert +Evo Terra and discussed tips on how to become successful at publishing your own book.

During the podcast we talked about different publishing services and Evo’s two start-ups. Watch the video below to learn more and make sure you subscribe to my channel on +YouTube! (http://www.youtube.com/petergmcdermott)

How to Backup Your WordPress.com Blog

Keeping a backup of all of your important files is important. You probably make regular backups of the important files on your computer at home, but do you worry about backing up your online data like all of the information on your blog?

If you have an account on WordPress.com and you’d like to move it over to a self-hosted site (something that many people decide to do as they continue to grow their audience), you will eventually need to export your data. But, don’t wait until you’re ready to move. Make regular backups of your blog,  just in case.

I was talking to A.V. Flox from BlogHer about an aquaintance that had their WordPress.com blog disappear. There’s no telling why the blog disappeared, whether it was a server error, a violation of Terms & Service, or just an anomily, but the truth is, it could happen to anyone, especially if your password isn’t secure.

To protect yourself from losing all of the valuable information you have created, your words, your posts, your comments, your images–all of the content that you have worked so hard to create–you should perform regular backups. Don’t worry though, they’re easy to do. Just follow these steps.

Step 1

Log into your WordPress.com Account and select the blog you want to backup:

Step 2

Click ‘My Blog’ in the upper left hand corner and select ‘Dashboard’

Step 3

On the left hand tool bar, go down to ‘Tools’ (it’s towards the bottom) and select ‘Export’

Step 4

If you want to backup all of your pages, posts and comments, select ‘All content’ and click the ‘Download Export File’ button.

Step 5

Depending on what browser you are using, a notification should appear asking you if you would like to download the file. Since it is an XML file, your computer might warn you that it could be dangerous. In situations where the source is trusted, such as WordPress.com, you don’t need to worry about this warning. Click ‘Keep’ and then, presto, you have a backup of all of your blog content on your home computer!

When you get more proficient and as your audience continues to grow, you might want to start your own website on an independent server using the WordPress.org framework. The interface is virtually the same, and when you go to set it up (using their famous five minute installation) you’ll be able to instantly Import your content, pages and comments from your previous location!

By backing up your data regularly you won’t have to worry about your blog “disappearing” because you’ll always have a copy of your content right at your fingertips.

If you liked this tutorial, be sure to share it with your friends using the social media buttons below! Also, be sure to enter your e-mail address and Subscribe in the right-hand navigation bar of my website to get weekly updates of all of my content at absolutely no cost!

How to Get Comments on Your Blog

There is no secret sauce to getting more interactivity on your blog. Blogging simply takes time and effort (T&E). You are only going to get as much out of your blog as you put into it. It’s simple math really.

Continue reading How to Get Comments on Your Blog

How to Get an Avatar in WordPress

If you have ever left a comment on a WordPress blog, you may have noticed that by default, there is no picture (or avatar) next to your name after the comment is published. Furthermore, if you have ever started your own WordPress blog, you will notice that there is nowhere to upload a profile picture under the Users section. So how do you get an avatar to appear? Continue reading How to Get an Avatar in WordPress