Great Blog Images–Yes! Copyright Prison–No!
So here’s the problem: A) You dream of having an attractive blog. B) You want to set an example of copyright adherence for your students and blog followers, be they real or imaginary. C) You can’t get excited about going to prison and/or paying enormous fines for copyright violations. So what do you do to have pretty blog images quickly and easily without fear or guilt? Say hello to my little friends from the World of Web 2.o! You can safely use these sources to create your own images or borrow copyright-friendly images for your blog posts (or for any other school purpose such as your website, handouts, or social network pages). Here are my favorites, and I promise I use them all frequently because they are all so quick and easy that even a novice will find them irresistible:
- Image Chef lets you create an image in under a minute that not only includes a graphic, but also includes any wording you can type in. OK, this image is tacky, but all I did was go to the site, select an attention-grabbing image, type in my slogan, tell the ImageChef folk I was posting to WordPress, type in my WordPress username and password, and they sent it right to my blog. Not every Web 2.0 utility is WordPress-friendly, but ImageChef passes the test. I have an account, but I didn’t even have to log in.
- GlassGiantworks just like ImageChef. I would show you an example, but it is blocked by our school district because there are also games on the site. As with ImageChef, you can select a design and add your own logo to accompany it. It takes just seconds to send the resulting image to WordPress or your website. You’re going to have to trust me on this one!
- TypoGenerator allows you to type in some text and make an image with the words you typed. Sometimes your first result is ugly or unreadable. No problem. All you do is hit a button to change your text style, text color, or background. You can also change your format from landscape to portrait. TypoGenerator warns you to be patient because sometimes it moves quickly and sometimes it is a bit arthritic. If you are patient enough, you can get a lovely result. Then all you do is right-click to save the file as a .jpeg, and voila, you have a fabulous image of your very own.
- Kwout is a great way to get a sharp, smooth screenshot of a website to use as your image when you want to blog about a website, or a person who has a website, or a topic related to a website, or…you get the idea. To use Kwout, first go to the Kwout site, and scroll down to the bottom of the page to get the bookmarklet. Right click on the bookmarklet link, then click on “create in links.” You then need to click on “View” at the top of your toolbar, then on “Toolbars;” then if “Links” isn’t already checked, you need to click on “Links” so that it is checked. For Pete’s sake, don’t uncheck it! At the right side of your toolbar, you can then click on Links, where you will now see Kwout. Drag it over to your toolbar. This may sound complicated, but you won’t have to do it ever again. When you want to use Kwout, all you have to do is go to the website where you want to snag a screenshot, then click on the Kwout button you just created. If the button doesn’t want to drag, just click on the word “Kwout” in your links. A box will appear asking you to select the area you wish to quote. You drag your mouse to outline the area and click on “Cut Out.” You are given several options. I always select “embed” and then copy the code. On your blog post, just click where you want the screenshot to go, then click on the HTML tab, then paste the code. The code will go in the right place, just like magic! The gorgeous screenshot contains a link back to the site and has pretty, smooth rounded edges unlike a regular boring screenshot. You don’t have to create an account or anything. I know this sounds complicated, but, trust me, it only takes a few seconds to grab each shot.
- PollDaddy was once all alone and probably lonely out in Web 2.0 land, but then a few months ago it joined up with WordPress and now you can add it to your WordPress blogs automatically without ever even leaving your blog. You can use your poll as your image. Can’t think of anything on which to poll your real or imaginary audience? Oh, please! Get creative! Like take this blog post, for example. I could poll you about your favorite Web 2.0 image tools, or about whether or not you have ever violated copyright in your blog posts or about why you think people don’t laugh more at my posts, or…well, the list goes on. Anyway, you can go to PollDaddy, or when you’re adding a post, just look up a couple of inches and you’ll see a circle. When you mouse over it, you’ll see that it says “Add Poll.” You just type in a question, then a few options for answers. There’s even a choice of allowing your readers to enter their own response. After that, select from one of nineteen different styles. You can even insert images to go along with your poll (keep them copyright-friendly, please!). If you create your poll from the PollDaddy website, be sure to tell the nice people that you are working with WordPress, if you are in fact doing so, so that you get the right code. You can also create great surveys for your patrons, by the way, so they can let you know how well you are doing.
- Wordle allows you to create a cool image of a word cloud using words related to the topic on which you are blogging, or even all the words from an entire website or blog. For example, I could copy and paste all the words I have used thus far and paste them in. This takes zero time. Like TypoGenerator, Wordle wants to make people happy, so if you hate your results, you simple “randomize” or edit them, which changes font, color, whatever. If you post directly to WordPress, you get a tiny result. I like to do a screen shot, paste it into Paint, cut out the Wordle image, then paste that into a new page which I save as a .jpeg image. This creates a larger image. Again, much faster than it sounds. These are words from the first paragraph of this blog. All this took less than a minute.
- Flickr Creative Commons is great for finding photographs taken by people who are willing to share their creativity, usually only asking in return that you give them credit for their work. The site makes it easy to tell what the creators want in return; right this minute there are over ten million pix available for just an attribution. I like to tell our students that the further you scroll down the page, the more people want, so it’s easier to stick to the top of the page. The explanation to the right of the page explains what the photographers (and videographers!) want in exchange for use of their work. Usually if it’s more than just giving them credit, it’s just that you not use their work commercially or that you don’t make derivatives from their work, like adding mustaches to the pictures of their moms. We can comply with that, right? Just click on the “See more” link in the category you decide to search, then type in your search term. And don’t forget to search for parts of speech other than nouns. Sometimes a verb, adjective, or adverb might work. When I find what I want, I save the attribution info in the title, so that if I ever want to use the file again, I will be sure to give the proper credit each time I use it. Here’s a great copyright logo courtesy of MikeBlogs.
- Thanks to Sandi Adams, the Web 2.0 guru of Cherokee County, and Buffy Hamilton, the Sandi Adams MiniMe, for all their great Web 2.0 advice.
- Ruth Fleet
- Creekview High School