Monday, July 27, 2009

Photographs and Wikipedia

While reading my blogs today, I read a post in Points of Reference, the reference sources blog on Booklist Online. The article, which came from the New York Times website, discusses Wikipedia and its lack of decent photographs. While I found the article very interesting, it was really the blog post that struck me. The post brings up the point of whether or not we notice bad photographs on Wikipedia. Upon reading this, I thought about for a minute and then realized that I very rarely noticed the quality of the picture in whatever Wikipedia entry I happen to be reading, but I would be sure to notice if a picture or image in a print encyclopedia was poor. What does this say about our culture? Do we expect to see nice, photoshopped pictures in books and in non-tabloid magazines, but could care less about what we see online? Almost every website or blog I look at everyday has numerous pictures of both good and bad quality. But unless I'm actually looking for a specific image, I never really notice if the picture is accurate, shot well, or just plain bad. In fact, the only time I really pay attention to pictures online is when I do a Google Image search to look for a picture of something; then I look at the photo's quality.

This makes me wonder if the eye has begun ignoring pictures like it ignores web ads. I rarely look at ads anymore, unless they are blinking, flashing, or otherwise doing something annoying. I know that every time I google something, ads appear on the right-hand side, but I couldn't tell you what they were to save my life. It's the same with pictures. Unless I make a point to look at the picture I would never be able to say if its good or bad, accurate or inaccurate.

Do you notice yourself ignoring pictures or images online? Do you think the brain is becoming programmed to skip over them like we skip over ads? What about print sources? Why do we care if the pictures are good there, but we don't care about the quality online? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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