Always on, always live

We use the word ‘always-on’ so flippantly these days, we often have no idea what it means.

We use it to suggest being tethered (“my phone is always with me”), or that we are contactable through many devices and points of contact (“find me at these various places…”).

Being Always-On means other things to organizations. They are on people’s radar, will be talked about, tweeted, linked to, photographed etc. Every interaction is an ‘on’ switch that’s permanently green.

To that point about photography, you may have come across the silly move by United to offload a passenger travelling from Newark to Istanbul, for taking photos of the digital panel on the seat in front of him. Read the story here.

Indeed, United had a passenger policy about cameras. (Just the mention of United and ‘policy’ immediately brought to my mind another kerfuffle involving guitars!). But how they exercised that policy and communicated it was just unfortunate.

I’ve travelled with a camera and taken numerous pictures inflight, as I am sure you have. Some of those pictures have been used on this blog. As a writer I use photos to record an idea or an object that I would refer to later, even if I don’t publish it. With so many billions of camera-equipped phones in circulation, it’s lame to even have a no-photograph policy –except in security-related situations.

The whole point is, we inhabit this always-on space on the ground, in the air, under the ocean and even in our work environments. (Heck, I have two installed cameras in my room, plus an SLR that I whip out ever so often; my students know that they may be on camera anytime!)

With that in mind, you may want to listen to one of my favorite podcasters, CC Chapman and his take on the United fiasco: The Always On Society.

Note: CC Chapman is one of the podcasters I interviewed for my upcoming book, Chat Republic. The book will be out in May 2013.

Using Flickr photos: is it social media’s carte blanche?

Interesting story of a controversial use of someone’s Flickr photo by Virgin Mobile.

AdRants reports that the family of someone is suing Virgin for using his photograph grabbed off Flickr for the ad campaign .

Which brings up the question: is it OK to use/link to someone’s picture because it is out there on a Creative Commons license? Or the larger question: Is the model release form in need of a re-write?

I have put up some of my photos here on my blog, via Flickr. I have not deemed them private, and they fall under the Creative Commons license –meaning they could be used for commercial reasons as long as they attribute the source. But I have to be careful. I don’t use pictures of my friends or family in that album. I know some others do.

CC Chapman (above) for instance, the epitome of all things in the new media space, a huge advocate of the commons and networking has loads of pictures up there. Robert Scoble’s photos of family and colleagues are everywhere.

Note, I am not copying or uploading this image of CC. I am simply linking to the URL, using the WordPress “insert image here” field. (I’ve previously used the image upload feature, but apart from it being cumbersome, it’s never seemed fair to copy someone’s logo or image onto my hard drive and upload it without their permission.)

But to get back to Virgin, consider the medium the campaign is promoting: phones. Virgin’s agency could not have been ignorant of the copyright envelope they were pushing. My guess is that it half expected this to happen and like all things Virgin, decided it was just “doing a Branson.”

And just to capture a delicious irony of how a Flickr lawsuit could end up, there’s a picture of a settlement check one photographer received after suing a company that had used her Flickr photo. Yes, that settlement and the check is on Flickr !