The first ever photo to feature a human being

I love this photo.

It is of the Boulevard du Temple, taken by Louis Daguerre in 1838. It’s possibly the first ever photo showing a human being. In the bottom left of the picture, there’s a man having his shoes polished and the bootblack polishing them and, it appears to me that there might be two people sitting at the table immediately to their right.

They appear because they were standing long enough to show up in the minutes long exposure. Other people, horses and vehicles were moving too quickly to register.

It’s beautiful and haunting.

There are lots of levels to read this, however, for me there’s a profound metaphor rather like the metaphor about humans only using 10% of the brain, it shows that the limits of the tools limit our understanding.

All learning analytics systems need to use proxies for engagement with learning, measurable touch points. They can’t (yet) measure motivation or new synaptic links, only some of the evidence of associations.

I may be using this picture a lot in presentations over the next few months.


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