Brain Pickings

See Something Cite Something: A Fair Use Flowchart


The social web era has introduced new challenges to attribution and citation. In an information system where content discovery is the currency of cool, not crediting your sources is a new form of piracy, plagiarism perpetrated against fellow publishers, driven perhaps by the misguided notion that there somehow isn’t “enough” — enough audience, enough interest, enough status — for everyone. The lack of attribution and source citation across the social web is not only one of our biggest pet peeves, but also one of the most serious issues that journalism has to sort out as it grapples with new publishing platforms. (In fact, we’re working on a forthcoming project in that very vein — stay tuned.)

So we were particularly thrilled to stumble upon this excellent See Something Cite Something flowchart guide to crediting your sources when you “see something cool on the Internet.”

Fair Use and Source Citation Online

Published just in time for yesterday’s World’s Fair Use Day, the flowchart is a tongue-in-cheek reminder to do the decent thing in what’s actually a very serious issue in publishing and content curation. Massive hat tip to co-creators Rosscott and H. Caldwell Tanner for doing what should’ve been done a long time ago.

via Coudal

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The Great Mystery of Photography: How to Photograph a Black Dog


For the past decade, editor Eric Kessels has been sifting through the world’s amateur analog photography, culling fascinating collections of found photos around eccentric and esoteric themes. in almost every picture #9: black dog documents one family’s attempt to solve one of the grand mysteries of photography: How to photograph a black dog. The couple, befallen by their beloved pet’s complete blackness and the technical insufficiencies of their very vintage camera, try over and over again to capture endearing portraits of the pooch, only to find his likeness hovering between brooding silhouette and nondescript black blob.

The collection unfolds across seasons and years, in almost comedic fashion, as the family carries on the seemingly hopeless quest, revealing at once a tender personal story and a timecapsulre of a photography era long gone.

Before the digital age, before cameras that could solve any problem from red-eye to world hunger, there was the 20th century, a time when photographers actually had to take photos themselves. Among other things, this included finding sufficient light for your subject.” ~ Christian Bunyan

And, finally, in a dramatically overexposed shot, we see the dog’s elusive face.

in almost every picture #9: black dog is the latest in a fantastic series of found photography books by Kessels, exploring everything from Japan’s infamous flat-headed Oolong rabbit, one of the earliest internet memes, to missing persons portraits.

via Lensculture

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Voyeurism Spotlight: Where and How Creators Create


Happiness, messiness and what unstaged photos have to do with setting the stage for genius.

Yesterday, we took a rare peek inside the sketchbooks of 26 of the world’s hottest street artists. Today, we’re turning that same voyeuristic eye to the broader world of creative professionals — designers, illustrators, writers and other exceptional creators — whose workspaces and toolboxes are like miniature museums of their unique brand of creative curiosity.


Since the dawn of creative time, an artist’s studio has been a reflection of his or her creative process — a private, sacred and deeply personal temple of meaning and ideation. From Your Desks explores the contemporary incarnation of the artist’s studio — the creator’s desk — through candid, unstaged portraits of workspaces.

A Desk is where we work. Symbolic. Psychical. Present. A second home. A Desk is a platform. A hearth. Roots are planted. It’s where upon hours on hours pass.”

The project encompasses a wide range of creators and workspaces, from artists like Maureen Cavanaugh and John Baldessari, to writers and bloggers like P.D. Smith and Steven Heller, to business mavericks like Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, and even the multiple-person teams behind some of our favorite creative projects, from A Journey Round My Skull, creativity curator extraordinaire, to the lovely Poketo.

FYD is the brainchild of writer, photographer and blogger Kate Donnelly.


On My Desk is the slightly more promiscuous predecessor of From Your Desks. Since 2006, the site has served as a place for designers, artists, illustrators and other creative types to share their work and workspaces. It’s closer to a crowdsourcing project than a curatorial one, since just about anyone can apply for a blogger account to post to the site, but it’s fascinating and delightful nonetheless.

On My Desk is the brainchild of UK illustrator Linzie Hunter, whom you might remember from our Spam As Art omnibus.


design*sponge, one of our favorite design blogs, has lesser-known yet wonderful section entitled What’s Inside Your Toolbox, probing into the creative processes of prominent designers, illustrators and artists by way of the tools they can’t live without. From legendary tastemaker and Anthropologie buyer Ketih Johnson to Brain Pickings favorite Maira Kalman, the rubric covers a vibrant spectrum of creators.

The column always features the same fill-in-the-blank question — “When I am in my studio, I feel______” — which inevitably reveals one simple yet recurring truth: There’s an enormous and profound correlation between happiness and creativity.

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