Pat O'Neill

View::Dicker Space

Back in the mid-twentieth century, when I was a young person, there was a word, a slangish word 'Dicker,' widely used to denote the practice of bargaining over the price of something.

You would ask fifty dollars for your second-hand Chevrolet—I would offer thirty dollars. A negotiation would ensue. The difference between the two could be called the "space" between the seller's price and the buyer's offer. In the case of the book, 'Dicker Space,' I used the word space to refer metaphorically to the space depicted in the pictures—a little plot of grass, a piece of a street, the interior of a building, sometimes containing and surrounding an object of particular interest.

In the ensuing decades, the word dicker seems to have dropped entirely from the american vocabulary, although it is occasionally used to describe an argument or quibble. Lawyers are sometimes said to dicker over the value of a settlement.

What's more important to me is the way thousands of informal photographers have worked together online, wordlessly, to create virtual panoramas of similar perspectives, and in so doing to write a century-long history of product design, use, and destruction. A national history of the public fantasies of speed, power, and pleasure, set against the inevitable forces of erosion, decay, and rust.

It seems to have been a useful practice for me, involving little physical effort beyond moving a mouse around, and almost no cost other than the computer itself. The pictures are getting harder to obtain, however, and slower to download, as apparently some smarty-pants programmers are making them harder to harvest.