Blockchain and Photography

You’ve probably heard a lot about BitCoin and the Blockchain network. Besides the “digital currency”, it has also been phrased as “The Internet of Money” (Andreas Antonopoulos). This is a more apt description. It’s an open and decentralized network, that anyone can build upon. BitCoin is merely the first killer app, and the networks fuel.

Blockchain can also offer many other services, such as digital art verification. How is it different from the web you know?

Once verified on the blockchain, it’s verified as your creation forever. It’s safe, and hack proof. Attribution cannot be altered, unless you transfer full ownership of the copyright. And the blockchain would verify that transaction as authentic. This is the beauty of a distributed ledger.

While not an official registry with the U.S. Copyright Office, it will live forever, so long as there is a blockchain Internet. If a website goes down, it’s still verified as your art on the Blockchain.

By the way, if it’s a valuable piece, it’s still a good idea to register with the Copyright Office.

The amount that will come from blockchain tech in the coming years will be fantastic, and will do much to make the Internet a better place. So long as it’s a true distributed ledger (be aware of centralized apps slapping a Blockchain sticker on the box). Call it Internet 2.0, if you want.

With a service like ascribe.io, you can decide how many official digital editions there will be for your photograph or art. You can also decide how official owners of a digital edition may display it. Copyright will remain yours.

Yes, a wise guy could come along and screenshot the photo. But it would not be a verified digital edition. Tracking digital artwork and photography continues to improve. So, for example, if you find a wise guy while using Pixsy, you can quickly issue a take down request or submit a case (likely small claims) without prohibitive legal costs.

I expect more services for artists and photographers like ascribe.io to emerge, as blockchain grows in adoption. It gives artists control over their work and data, always a good thing. I think the U.S. Copyright Office and governments around the world can also learn a lot from this technology. It will greatly improve efficiency, and reduce costs to taxpayers.

Coin Telegraph has a good article about some of the blockchain services available to artists and photographers now.

My first blockchain verified photograph is on ascribe.io. Warning, maybe NSFW and not for those made squeamish by pistols.

 

 

 

 

 

Get Lost in Joshua Tree

photo of graffiti at Giant Rock in Landers California
Giant Rock. Mojave Desert. Landers, CA.

A lot of people know about Joshua Tree National Park. The nearby town of Joshua Tree, CA has a reputation for being the odd twist of desert hippy. It also doubles as a retirement home for celebrity artists. Rumor has it that Robert Plant owns a home in the area, as does Cyndi Lauper. I doubt anyone cares to look, which is partly why people find it attractive.

In the vicinity of Joshua Tree are the Mojave Desert towns of Landers and Twentynine Palms. Out there space and privacy is abundant. Clocks tick slower, and people are unapologetic about doing nothing. Don’t expect a lot of on-demand economy.

If a visitor has Los Angeles’esque patience, or none at all, then misery awaits. If that’s your jam, go to Palm Springs instead. In the Mojave, 5:00 PM opening means a 5:00 PM opening. Not 4:59. And 5:00 can mean 5:08. But definitely not a minute before 5:00. In the desert, everything is relative and late is early.

There isn’t a lot to do if you’re not into hiking, camping, dirt bikes, or photography. And that’s okay. Nobody is in Joshua Tree to jet set. It’s a place to slow down and take naps in the hammock, and then enjoy a cold beer.

Looking for inspiration here? Then you’ll need to include psychedelics. But no reason to search for such things, when going off-path in the spirit of adventure has its own rewards. 

Find yourself lost in Joshua Tree.

landscape photo of dirt road in the Mojave Desert Landers California
Dirt road to Giant Rock. BYOB and vision quest. Landers, CA.

Panama City, Panamá: Just Because It’s Awesome

Diana film camera portrait of a construction worker Panama City, Panamá
Construction worker in redeveloping Casco Viejo. Panama City, Panamá. All rights reserved.

Panama City, Panamá is a city in transition. One of the brighter emerging economies in Latin America, it’s home to a stable democracy. Markets and services are blossoming with cash flow, in part from their ownership of the Panama Canal.

This does not make it perfect, and there is still much work to do. But Panama has come a very long way, in a relatively short amount of time. For that, the country deserves respect.

Some might look at the new highrise apartments, condos, and office buildings in the eastern part of the city and think it has already emerged. But as is common in many cities, development also comes at the expense of redevelopment. You might call it gentrification.

For all of the wired modernism in neighborhoods like Punta Pacifica, there is old Panamá on the west side of the city. Here it is not highrise and exclusive living, or wealthy, save for parts of Casco Antiguo. But it is colorful, vibrant, and public.

Casco Antiguo (aka Casco Viejo), is the old historic district, and redevelopment is in-process. This means one building could house or staff well-to-do and cater to tourism or nightlife, while just next door could be a family living in poverty. It does not take a doctorate to know which has a future in this neighborhood.

Regardless of how we feel about it, this is the direction many cosmopolitan cities are now taking. And who are we to tell any country or foreign city how to handle something like this?

Contextual understanding is important, and I get where concerned locals are coming from. But if standards-of-living can and do improve broadly, then it’s shallow to expect a neighborhood to stay poor, just so gringos like me can say it’s authentic. That discussion, in more profound aspects, is up to Panamá.

Nonetheless, the people of Panama City regardless their circumstances, are truly lovely people. Smiles and laughter are common. Conversations are lively, or gentle. Spirits are good. Food is delicious. Even street hustlers and annoying taxi drivers have their charms. Operation Just Cause is in the past, and I experienced no anti-Americanism. I had a great time.

By no means does any of this rationalize squalid conditions some Panamanians still live in, such as in El Chorillo or Santa Ana. But there is a pride and optimism in Panamá, and that cannot be denied.

Photography notes:

It is in the neighborhoods of Casco Antiguo and Santa Ana that I shot most of my Panama City photos during my February visit. But there are snap shots from around downtown areas Marbella and El Cangrejo, too. I snuck in a few pictures from Carnaval, but during the festivities I just put the camera away and partied. Plenty of local photographers were on the scene, anyway. 

The photo you see above is a portrait, not a candid or staged. I walked up and motioned with my camera, and he nodded. I took the shot, nodded back and was on my way. No words spoken. But it was cool as it gets, and it’s my favorite shot from Panamá. And yes, it’s film.