Saturday, October 23, 2010

Blow the war horn !!

#Commons has featured pictures. Having a picture featured is valuable on many levels. It is recognition for the picture and it means that the picture is likely to be used in many Wikipedias. Crucial in my understanding is that it is about featured pictures, not featured photos.

The issue with the current featured picture candidate process is dominated by digital photo think. A macro picture of a fly on some shit has a better chance of featuring then the picture below.

Samo man playing war horn 20017864 edit

This picture is take in Burkina Faso and show a Samo man playing the so called war horn. This picture was taken during one of the collection expeditions of the Tropenmuseum in 1970 and 1971 in preparation of the exhibition in 1971-1972 titled "Samo. An African savanna people in development".

The Samo are one of the Mandé peoples and as far as Wikipedia is concerned they do not exist. From such a perspective, the war horn should be sounded to promote the coverage of subjects in both Commons and Wikipedia. Arguments like "FP status is to notice the special qualities of a picture, not to make anthropological advertisements" mean that only modern photos will be elected.  The quality of the picture is in line with the norm of the period. The true quality of the picture is best seen here where you find a 15MB TIFF file with blemishes removed, sharpness increased, levels adjusted, slightly cropped and rotated.

When historical pictures are consistently undervalued, it degrades not only the value of the featured pictures, it also degrades the value of Commons itself. Commons is a repository of educational material. Historic pictures show events that often do not repeat. Anthropological pictures show cultures that are not our own. When such pictures are not welcomed on the front page, when featured pictures are only good enough when they fit the latest craze Commons shows how little it values what it should be about; a repository of educational images useful for the whole world and about the whole world.
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