Tag Archives: Photos

I love you Facebook! Thanks for including me by adding image recognition software!

Today I’m so excited it’s ridiculous. Because today, I am one big step closer to being fully included in the full Facebook experience.

 

I loved Facebook in its infancy. All statuses were chronological and even though there were photos, they didn’t clog up my newsfeed to the point where I felt more frustrated than informed. Then, things started changing. And by 2011, I was seriously sick of Facebook because I could no longer choose not to get photos in my newsfeed on a permanent basis. I don’t know if people also started to post more photos, but to me they seemed to increase.

 

Eventually, I learned to live with it. I’m a minority group and accept that most people cherish photos. It’s not that I don’t, but I much prefer a video with good audio or just audio because it’s the best way for me to relive saved memories.

 

But captions on photos help a lot. They don’t have to be longwinded, but something like “My cat fell asleep on my newly ironed work suit” is enough for me to understand and click like.

 

But not everyone writes good captions all the time. Even I am guilty of this. See, I’m conforming to the majority, so I was excited when I heard that soon, Facebook would have recognition software that could describe photos for blind people.

 

And today, it has finally happened. I was browsing through my newsfeed as usual when I heard Voiceover on my iPhone read out a description of a photo someone had published. I couldn’t believe it at first, so I kept scrolling. And sure enough, there were more image descriptions.

 

The biggest smile you can imagine crossed my face and I did a little dance, in my feverish flue state.

 

The image recognition today is very basic and will only describe in general terms. “This image may contain one person and tree outdoors.” An Interview with the blind engineer, I think his name is Matt King, who is the main man behind this great development said that it could potentially recognize a lot more, but that it would take some more testing and developing before it’s possible to get more detailed descriptions. He added that some are raising concerns about data protection safety. But as he pointed out, we only want the data that’s already there.

 

I hope that soon I’ll be able to hear descriptions like “Jane and John at outside table drinking coke,” but for now I am happy. Because this is an extremely important step towards including blind people into the vast visual world of social media. I already feel more included and I can’t wait till this feature also comes to Instagram. And perhaps Twitter soon will see the sense to not just to rely on users writing good captions for their images. Captions are not dead though. Because even though it’s possible to see an image, or hear it, a caption can still tell a good story.

 

Well, that’s me off to look at some more Facebook photos. Laters! Xx

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Be careful with the criticism

Following on from my previous post about having to look good as a professional singer, I am going to talk about looking good in photos, videos and TV appearances.

When you can’t see, that is the most challenging. Especially photos, because they show one moment in time, yet they are still so the moment is captured. And if you’re not looking your best, everybody can have a go at you for not looking your best.

This doesn’t of course only apply to blind people. Take your favourite celebrity for instance and I can guarantee you that there are some unfortunate snaps of them out there.

Honestly, I could care less what strangers think of my photos. If I have a bad day, or moment that’s been photographed and they think I’m ugly, so be it.

The worst is to get criticism from friends. Especially accompanied by “But you didn’t have visual control”. Implying consciously or subconsciously that if you could see, you’d never let anyone take a picture of you like that, even if you were in control.

The annoying thing, bitchy as it may sound, is how this is a one way criticism lane.

If they put out unfortunate looking photos of themselves, I can’t really comment back.
a) Because I may never know about them
b) Because if somebody tells me about the bad photo, that person will know I and someone else have been slagging them off to each other. And that’s not nice and grown-up.
c) And it may give the person I criticise the feeling that I’ve spent time looking for bad things to say about their photos.

It’s a hard one. It’s not as if someone can’t advise me about photos. But it’s all about how it’s done and how frequently. No, I don’t have visual control, but if you recognize that I’m trying my best, it doesn’t help me when you say “You are doing your best; it’s the people around you that mess it up.”

One type of criticism that works and is constructive, is for example “That photo looks good, but next time, keep this or that in mind. whatever it may be.” It sounds similar, but makes a huge difference to how I see it.

And as mentioned, a photo is a frozen moment in time. And you may not always know the story or situation behind that moment. Just remember that.

When it comes to videos and TV appearances it’s slightly easier, because you have a little bit more control. But constructive criticism is the key here too.

I got out right mad when one of my friends told me I looked like a sack of flour during an interview, “although you spoke well”.

However, when she broke it down and told me subtle things I could change, like sitting slightly differently, turning more directly to the people interviewing me etc, it made a huge difference. Instead of being the stupid blindy who looked like a bag of flour, I was just a regular girl who could adjust a few things.

I may be extra sensitive to words. But I think, especially when talking about very visual things with someone who can’t see, the words you use make so much difference. Ad maybe sometimes, if it’s clearly the people around me that has’t managed to capture me perfectly, don’t say so. It’s not always necessary.