09 February 2015

Pictures are More than Images

A recurring source of frustration for me are digital images made from pictures with nary any provenance.

If I see a picture online that someone purports to be my 3rd great-grandmother and it's the only picture I've ever seen of her anywhere and there's no "source" listed or included with the image, how do I know it's really who the picture purports it to be?

Of course, this is the problem with any digital image. Actually it's a problem with any photograph. How do I know the picture is who someone says it is? It all boils down to how reliable consider that source to be.

I've blogged about this before, but I believe that including some provenance on the actual digital image is a good idea. Not just in the "metafiles" or the filename, but as a part of the actual image. That makes it easier for those who "copy and paste" to have the opportunity to copy and paste the provenance as well.

That's what I've tried to do in this photograph. I've included:

  • Names of individuals
  • When and where photograph was taken
  • Who made the image
  • Who had the original photograph--someone vague in this online post, but my digital image has more specifics
  • Who made the digital image
  • How identification was done
Just something to think about.

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You can learn more about citation in: Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace 2nd Edition
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