Here’s a great article that’s basically about JPEG compression artifacts: http://www.theawl.com/2014/12/the-triumphant-rise-of-the-shitpic
I like the idea of “counting the rings” to see how old a viral image is. This also opens up a question about tools like Google image search. I wonder if their algorithm takes decay into account when it searches for the “original” image.
Just for fun, this is what the same spot looks like in Google Street View:
Sorry, Tattoo & Piercing, you’ve been replaced by Coffee. Also, it looks like Google needs to store high-dynamic range versions of all the Street View imagery and then render it at 8-bits per channel based on the scene being viewed. This would still be a high contrast scene, but at least they could retain some cloud detail. It would be cool if Street View worked more like video games which adjust brightness based on where you are looking (i.e. in a tunnel, indoors vs outdoors, etc.). Get to work, Google!