(Note: What follows is an example of a blog post — one possible way to handle the assignment — that I’ve asked my Digital Media Literacy course students to create.)

San Bruno Mountain aerial view
Derrick Coetzee (User:Dcoetzee), CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Trivia question: What city is in between San Francisco and South San Francisco? You’re looking at it above: Brisbane, nestled into the side of San Bruno Mountain just south of the city and just north of the airport.

It’s a small town amid the city and many suburbs, in the Bay Area that is famous for a lot of things, most recently the tech industry. The population is under 5,000 (though that is about to change) and while it has been “discovered” in a real estate sense it isn’t as expensive as the city itself.

It’s also a great place for picture-taking. The photo above came from Wikipedia, which offers images at no charge (always check the attribution page) from its Wikimedia Commons archive. It’s an angle you don’t see except from airplanes.

The photo below is from the town, looking up on a day when fog is just lifting:

San Bruno Mountain in fog...
Photo by Dan Gillmor

You can see the city’s main street here, and get a sense of the small size of the place.

DALL-E, the AI image generator from OpenAI, imagines Brisbane to look like this, using the prompt “brisbane california with san bruno mountain in the background” — and it’s part real, part bogus.

Dall-E fantasy of Brisbane with San Bruno Mountain
Dall-E fantasy of Brisbane with San Bruno Mountain, created using OpenAI tool.

The picture is not Brisbane at all, but rather a mishmash of Brisbane-ish landscape and urban/suburban streets. It’s colorful and interesting but not real.

I didn’t try for a fantasy shot, and probably should have. It would have been more interesting than this!

What is crucial with all of these new tools and capabilities is to be clear what we’re sharing — the attribution matters a great deal, because it contributes to the context of what a reader is seeing.