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Warren Ellis has written around thirty graphic novels, comics, prose fiction, journalism, videogames and screenplays. Sometimes he take photographs. He also creates and co-creates websites, including this one. He has awards and stuff, he's been in big magazines and newspapers, and he's been published in NATURE, which he always mentions because it makes him laugh.

Warren Ellis is represented by agent Angela Cheng Caplan at Writers & Artists and manager Aaron Michiel. He's a consultant to artbomb.net and opi8.com He's on the web at warrenellis.com, strangemachine.com and diepunyhumans.com. He's thirty four and lives in England and he never ever sleeps. Never.

Recent Columns:

Missed a column? Here are links to recent Brainpowered's:

36: Things Online That I Am Sick Of

35: A Foul Collection

34: Monetising The Fringe

33: Walking Camera

32: Microcast

31: All You Need Is Hate

30: Nothing Happened

(more columns)


33: Walking Camera

Moblog = mobile weblog, an online diary created on mobile devices. I've been doing this for many years with an email journal, BAD SIGNAL (in its previous incarnation, FROM THE DESK OF), which I've sent entries to from all over the world. I'm actually writing this on a mobile-enabled Handspring Visor PDA equipped with a fold-up keyboard. I haven't yet found a workable term for creating a moblog out of emailed photographs taken by and sent from a mobile phone. Someone tried to fly mopho, I've heard mophoblog, there's flog from fotolog via fotolog.net. Some friends and I chuck around futurephoneblog for a laugh. Moblog seems to be sticking.

There are lots of ways to do it. I use two systems. For photos that work best at their full size, I use a free system called Mfop2. I rename the photo file and email it to the Mfop2 system with my password in the text area of the email. Mfop2 reads the password, checks my settings, dumps the photo in a selected directory on my website, and causes the photo to be published as an inline image on my blog, diepunyhumans.com. It works brilliantly, but requires on my end the presence of a trained webmonkey -- in DPH's case, the artist Charity Larrison -- to make all the code widgets work. I have a small brain, and it's already full of useless crap. I can't wrap it around technical stuff.

Until recently, for photos that look better at small size, I used a second, and much easier option. Textamerica, also free, allows you to email or MMS photos to a selected email address off your phone. Set-up on their website is quick and easy, you don't need to rename your photos, and you're off instantly. Textamerica is supported by unobtrusive Google Ads, and it's a terrific start option. They also provide a little bit of code that you can paste into your own website, which displays the image you most recently sent to your Textamerica page. It's a brilliant easy solution.

The only problem with Textamerica is their end user agreement. Which used to have you cede all rights in your photographs to Textamerica, but after complaints seems to have amended their stance to:

"Textamerica.com and any images and comments on this website are intended for personal use only and may not be used except by Textamerica.com for commercial purposes."

(That's aside from the you-know-fuck-off of "Textamerica.com may use, sell and/or share with its affiliates any information provided by you on this website, including your name, e-mail address, usage patterns, and uploaded images and text.")

The clumsy language remains a bit of a problem. I mean, the previous end user agreement ("All images and comments posted on Textamerica.com, regardless of the source or content, immediately shall become the exclusive property of Liberation Management LLC") was probably not a problem for most people. But, having done a book of low-fi photography and perhaps wanting to do another one one day, it meant to me that every photo I store via Textamerica was useless to me.

Most people don't read end user agreements. I'm still testing the operating boundaries of my cameraphone, so most of the pictures I'm taking aren't so useful. But the point is that the option of using them is taken away from me. And on top of the book issue, I'm an invited artist to the forthcoming SENT phonecam exhibit in LA. I still don't like their agreement -- the placement of "except by Textamerica.com", it can be argued, means that only Textamerica can use photos stored on their site for commercial purposes. Legal writing needs to be surgically precise, and this is inexact language.

I don't honestly believe that Textamerica is being evil. But they could have thought a bit harder about it, especially after their old EULA was autopsied all over the web. (And it may explain why a real photographer like Steve Diet Goedde is showing his phone images via a LiveJournal.)

This week, I've switched to moblogUK, which you can find at http://moblg.net. moblogUK is run under a blanket Creative Commons licence, based on an ideology sometimes known as copyleft. Basically, it means that I can reproduce the photos in any manner I like, and everyone else can reproduce them on a not-for-profit basis. This is a far, far better solution. And the functionality and ease of use is very close to what Textamerica provides, with extra bits like RSS (which I think is just for lazy bastards, but people seem to like it.)

I'd hate to see Textamerica go away, as I think they provide a terrific service. But they need to rethink the way they're doing business. And in the meantime, as someone living in Britain, I have a weird fondness for being on moblogUK. Silly, really.

I wonder if anyone's worked with models on a camphone yet.

-- Warren

Warren Ellis can be reached at brainpowermail@aol.com. BRAINPOWERED is copyright (c) 2002-2004 Warren Ellis. All rights reserved.

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