thinking about the deictic properties of the indefinite article so often found in image captions, especially in a machine learning context—e.g. it's almost always something like "a boat is in the water," not "this/that/the boat..." (or, you know, "my boat," "someone else's boat," etc.). demonstrates the extent to which image captioning as an activity assumes & enforces a kind of physical, temporal and social decontextualization of images—neither captionist nor viewer are "present" in the process

image captions like this always sound like descriptions from text adventure games, or like calling the super for help with the fusebox when a fuse gets tripped, or like when one stranger asks another at some public spectacle, "what happened here?" (very different from how you might "caption"/describe photos you took [e.g.] on vacation to a friend while showing them to the friend—in that case you'd be saying things like "and *this* is *my* favorite place in...")

@aparrish I like the idea this sort of suggests, little microfiction pieces as image captions

@cori I kind of like the aesthetic effect too! but I feel like it's only a very particular kind of fiction does visual descriptions like this—especially in microfiction I'd figure you'd prefer the deixis-heavy "I adore this fuzzy sweater" to "A fuzzy sweater is near a person. A person adores a fuzzy sweater."

@aparrish that's true, I was thinking more about "I adore this fuzzy sweater"-type captions. maybe I just like the idea of explicitly subjective image descriptions?

@aparrish Is technology like this being used for captioning? Or just for search engine indexing?

For the reasons you mention, and more, it seems pretty poorly suited to captioning.

@apLundell thinking of e.g. and both of which are well-known image captioning models based on corpora that have this characteristic (though admittedly I don't know exactly how these particular models are being used in commercial applications)

@aparrish Do you feel differently about mastodon image descriptions? I find if I write these as "the magpie shouts Heck!" I feel like it raises questions - what magpie? Are we supposed to recognize it? While "a magpie shouts Heck!" just describes what is in the image with as much or as little context as looking at the image provides.

@anne I should be clear that I don't think physical, temporal and social decontextualization of the image is a priori a bad thing! and it's probably necessary to some extent when describing images (especially for accessibility purposes) in a medium like this that is already likewise decontextualized. I just thought it was interesting to note, and wanted to think about other ways that images are described (and can be described) in different contexts and for different purposes

Sign in to participate in the conversation
Friend Camp

The decentralized web is about trust. You should only join Friend Camp if you personally trust Darius Kazemi with your social media data. You probably only have that level of trust if we are IRL friends or have been internet friends for a long time. Generally speaking this is a small, closed community. In the end, Darius is the arbiter of what is allowed here. If you don't have a good idea of the kind of behavior that flies with Darius, again, you probably shouldn't join this instance. In the interest of specificity, we do have a code of conduct and privacy policy which you should read. Friend Camp features several modifications that were requested by our users. * you can log in via any subdomain, which means you can log in to multiple accounts in the same browser session (for example, log in once on and then as another user on * they are no longer called "toots", they are now "posts" * if you have a locked account and you get a follow request, a reminder appears under your "post" button (on normal Mastodon mobile it is otherwise buried in a sub-menu and you might not see it for a long time) * the emoji dropdown is a neutral smiley face instead of the cry-laughing smiley @mentions are rendered as "@user" for a Friend Camp user and "@user@domain" for remote users. This helps clear up when you follow two people who have the same username on different servers. * there is a "never ask me again" checkbox on the confirmation for clearing your notifications -- more info here * When an mp3 link is in a post, we also embed an inline mp3 player. git commit here * 500 characters of profile text git commit here, requested by @deerful Important Bit from the Privacy Docs: If you want decent privacy (the info doesn't leave this server), the only way to do that is to set your account to private, only accept friend requests from other users, and only ever @ mention other users. Once you start talking to people on other servers, all bets are off. Any private message you send to someone on another server could be looked at by the admin of a different server. This is kind of like email: if you are on a private email server, and you send an unencrypted email to a gmail account, congrats, Google now has the content of that email. But also, you do this every day, so, hey. The internet! Our beautiful icon is based on photo3idea_studio from, licensed CC 3.0 BY. It has been modified by!