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Friday, February 04, 2005

The Flikcr Phenomenon - The Tag Team

The Guardian writes, An innovative photo organising service is taking the web by storm.It is hard to avoid the buzz online about Flickr, a photo organising/sharing service yet to celebrate its first birthday. In tones echoing the optimism of early 90s internet culture, enthusiasts say the service makes possible new kinds of conversation and community. Flickr's growth has matched this excitement. Though still in beta, it has 245,000 members, and is growing at 5-10% a week, according to co-founder Caterina Fake. "We have 3.5m photos online - members upload up to 60,000 new photos a day." Excerpts with edits and added comments:

Digital photography is hugely popular and online storage and organisation is one solution to the image overload many snappers experience. Flickr is well designed and easy to use, but its popularity is probably because it permits "a rich, sharing experience". The tools it gives users - in particular the ability to "tag" photos (describe their content with a key word) and then, via those tags, share images with others, have unleashed the social potential of digital photos. It's easy to upload photos taken with your digital camera or cameraphone. You can choose to keep them private or make them publicly available. Tagging images helps you organise your collection, but also share it. So searching on the tag "cat" will call up all publicly available photos with that tag. More usefully, Flickr's tags (and the ability to form groups around them) make it easy for family and friends to share photos from weddings or other events. "You can also get creative and make group scrapbooks around a theme," says Fake,Cofounder of Flickr.

The experience is like tuning into the personal TV station of friends. Flickr taps into the social power of digital photos more effectively than one-to-one picture messaging. "No one who's seen a group pore over a photo album was surprised that photos are good for group communications," observes Shirky. But cameraphone companies "designed their systems to force one-to-one use. Carriers are committed to only creating uses of the phone that match their 'one transaction, one fee' model. But for all the social uses of mobile phones, the first thing the service has to do is get the data away from the smothering embrace of the carriers and out on to the internet, where you can build real group applications." In a way, Technorati's tags show how Flickr might extend its influence. Shirky says it is really "a service with a web front-end" and that people will build sites that use it in interesting ways. So will the site (and tagging) continue to grow, or is it, as some critics argue, too "geeky" for the mainstream? "Over the years, I've heard that email, IM, Geocities, weblogs, and file-sharing networks would remain niche because they were too hard for 'regular' people to use," says Shirky. "The people saying those things don't understand that, for people who swim in technology (which is to say people under 30), these kinds of services are obvious bordering on intuitive."
Tom Forenski quotes Michael Copeland as writing Google and Yahoo want to buy Flickr outright, while VCs are flooding the husband-and-wife management team with offers and Om Malik’s take - "Given the aggression with which Google has moved with Picasa, and their track record of replicating-and-improving on other people's ideas, you think maybe Flickr missed an opportunity to cash out?"
Stewart tells Tom, "Given our growth, the technologies cooking in the lab, and that we're still completing the feature set and infrastructure build out for version 1.0, I'm not worried about the future. I don't think Google can or would want to simply replicate anything. They are pretty obsessive about the details -- Gmail took two years in development - and they like to do things their own way. As their evolution from search engine to ad network + portal continues I think they become easier to compete with in". No doubt - Flickr is a phenomenon -this platform should get stronger and stronger - could turn out to be mow powerful than Hotmail in its heydays before getting acquired by Microsoft.

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Sadagopan's Weblog on Emerging Technologies, Trends,Thoughts, Ideas & Cyberworld
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