Remembering the Future: Metropolis

Still from Fritz Lang's 1927 science fiction film about a dystopian future.

On January 10th, 1927 the world gazed upon a startling dystopian version of the future. Fritz Lang‘s landmark sci-fi film Metropolis was released in Germany. Fans of retro-futurism can celebrate the event and watch Lang’s cinematic masterpiece via the Internet Archive. Cost of admission: FREE!

New Year’s Resolution: Find Clear Images

My friend Molly is always looking for powerful images as a prompt for rich discussions in her online class. She usually completes a quick Google search and finds pictures that look promising; however, when she stretches those images they become grainy. Her students are less than impressed. What a waste of time! Ugh! What if there was a trick that would help Molly find images that look great regardless of their size? There is a solution! Anyone who targets a search for high resolution images can find and use great graphics. Want to feel proud of the pictures you find, too? Here’s how to find great pictures every time: look for lots of pixels!

The images we see on a computer screen are digital pictures. These digital images are made of small squares, just like a mosaic tiles called pixels (a portmanteau word made from picture element). Generally, the more of those little digital mosaic tiles, pixels (abbreviated px), we have in an image, the clearer the picture will appear to us. We generally refer to this as image resolution. If we keep that in mind when searching for images we can find  crisp looking images and avoid grainy graphics.

Suppose Molly needs a very sharp image of Charles Dickens (she teaches lessons about literature, after all). The first place I’d suggest she look is the Creative Commons Search site (CC Search). Why? In addition to leading her to high resolution images, CC Search will also help Molly identify a greater number of images she can modify, adapt, build upon, and use for commercial purposes. Though she could search through all kinds of places at CC Search, I’d guide her to select Wikimedia Commons as it’s a safe bet that the content there isn’t going to lead to copyright hassles.

Creative Commons Search

After Molly’s search returns a few images, I’d draw her attention to the pixel count on each picture. An image that is 1,300 pixels wide and 1,852 pixels wide means that the picture has a total of 2,407,600 pixels! Wow! That picture will have a higher resolution which means more image detail.

Pixel count comparison

The more pixels in an image, the better that image is going to look if Molly has to increase the image in size; however, given the size of the image, that’s pretty unlikely. An added benefit of choosing a higher resolution image is that the image will look good if she has to decrease its size.

In the past, even though she’s ferreted out a great image with great resolution, Molly’s made a mistake. She’s copied the thumbnail picture of the image she’s settled upon using. If all she copies is the thumbnail image of that great Dickens image, she’ll be disappointed. The thumbnail is only 84px x 120px, totaling a paltry 10,080 pixels–ugh! If she stretches that small resolution image out, she might get something like this:

Blurry enlargement

Thankfully, Molly clicks on the thumbnail which is a link that takes her to the read-deal image with the higher pixel count (and better resolution). In fact the image she finally gets to is enormous. The  high resolution image is so big that she has to decrease it in size. Here’s what her final image looks like compared the thumbnail. Much better, Molly!

Image with higher resolution

Now that Molly knows the secret to finding excellent looking images she’s on her way to quite a few rich discussions with her students. She can also teach her pupils how to track down better pictures for the multimedia presentations she wants them to create.

An Enchanting Idea: DRM-Free Reading

One of GigaOM‘s senior writers, Mathew Ingram, conjures up a some compelling reasons why publishers should quit cursing their readers with DRM. Ingram’s What Book Publishers Should Learn From Harry Potter reveals that allowing consumers to access their purchased literature on any platform without digital-rights management restrictions makes for a magical experience.

Mike Haufe's Magic Book

Mike Haufe's Magic Book

The Continuous Copyright Caper

Cue the sinister-sounding music. Enter a nefarious group of greedy people hell-bent on extending the perpetuity of copyright. Like a band of film noir thugs, they spread out to operate in the shadows where they cause collective mayhem. And now the reveal: supporters of restrictive copyright law have been up to their villainous business for quite a while. Timothy B. Lee of Arstechnica reports that ACTA is actually part of a multi-decade, worldwide copyright campaign.

Worldwide Copyright Campaign

So Many eBooks, So Little Time!

Wandering around Project Gutenberg when everyone else is asleep is like having an entire library to explore. It’s a guilty pleasure I abandon myself to without the least bit of remorse. The last time I was nosing around, I found Myths of the Norsemen From the Eddas and Sagas (published in 1909) by the noted British historian H. A. Guerber. The book contains stirring accounts of the intrigues among the Norse gods, denizens of a universe they were doomed to destroy in a tragic last battle. Along with stories, readers will delight in fascinating images like the one below: a wondrous depiction of a giant with a flaming sword by John Charles Dollman, an English painter and illustrator.

The Giant with the Flaming Sword by J. C. Dollman

Related Resources:

What the Dickens?

Celebrating the birth of a literary legend, Michael Cavna‘s thoroughly enlightening and entertaining Comic Riffs blog inundates readers with a deluge of Dickensian delights.

Other delicious Dickensian diversions:

Google Doodle celebrating Dickensian characters