Distributed Flickr

I recently upgraded my Flickr account to Pro and started using it wholeheartedly. I’ve even invited a few folks to join, which is something I’ve never done with any of the Social Networking sites I’m on. Okay, so the digerati who follow this blog are probably yawning right now. (If this includes you, then be patient. I guarantee you’ll find the latter part of this post interesting.) Obviously, Flickr’s been a phenomenon for a long time. But my reasons for jumping on the Flickr bandwagon may interest some, and if not, my thoughts on distributed photo sharing hopefully will interest the rest of you.    (KKP)

Why did it take so long for me to embrace Flickr? Mainly because I’ve got a hacker mentality. I’m also not crazy about my personal data being stored on someone else’s machine. I’d rather hack and host myself if I can help it.    (KKQ)

This mentality has changed over the years, largely due to lack of time and shifting priorities and philosophy. But what really sold me was:    (KKR)

  • I like the basic Flickr information architecture, namely, the notion that every picture has a single unique ID. This simple premise enables you to layer all kinds of organization on top of your pictures, from collections to tags. Moreover, it also enables a photolog view of your life. I haven’t found any gallery software that uses this architecture and hence, that offers these features. Gallery, for example, offers per-album RSS feeds, but not a site-wide RSS feed. Plus, if you want to share a picture across multiple albums, you need to duplicate it.    (KKS)
  • I like the Flickr UI (yes, even the new gamma version).    (KKT)
  • I haven’t been doing a good job of sharing my photos with others, and Flickr is the best service for doing that right now.    (KKU)
  • Everybody’s using it. Usually, the fact that a lot of people are on the bandwagon is enough to drive me away from it. But at some point, pragmatism trumps the curmudgeon in me.    (KKV)

We’re still using Gallery at Blue Oxen Associates, largely due to some special needs. Which leads me to my big gripe about Flickr. Why can’t I use Flickr to share pictures hosted elsewhere? In other words, if I have an image somewhere on the web I want to share, why can’t I “bookmark” it on Flickr a la del.icio.us?    (KKW)

This idea emerged from Greg Elin‘s participation at the first FLOSS Usability Sprint. Greg’s team, which included Mary Hodder and Matt Mullenweg, was discussing Fotonotes‘s needs. At some point, Matt brought up the idea of a bookmarking service for photos, and the team started running with it. These discussions helped inspire and influence Mary’s startup, Dabble, which allows you to bookmark video hosted elsewhere.    (KKX)

I’m totally psyched to see Mary take this idea to fruition, but I’d still like to see something similar for pictures.    (KKY)

FLOSS Usability Sprint Redux

We wrapped up the FLOSS Usability Sprint last Sunday, and I’m just about recovered. It was a wonderful, wonderful event: thought-provoking, inspiring, and most importantly, productive. The key, as always, was having a great group of participants, great facilitation (thanks to my partners in this endeavour, Allen Gunn and Katrin Verclas), and a great space (thanks to Jeff Shults, environmental and listening master). Also, many thanks to our sponsors, without whom this event would not have been possible.    (ICD)

We accomplished many things. First and foremost, we helped improve the usability of the six projects that participated: AMP, Chandler, CivicSpace, Fotonotes, Identity Commons, and OpenACS. So far, the follow-through with this event has been significantly better than that of previous events with which I’ve been involved, and we’ll be able to point to some very concrete achievements that are a direct result of the sprint.    (ICE)

Second, we explored several broader issues surrounding usability and Open Source software. It was an unbelievable learning experience for everyone involved. Those of you who have heard my Blue Oxen spiel know that my ultimate goal is to foster a Learning Community around collaboration. My claim is that these collaborative learning processes are many times more effective and accelerated than traditional learning methods. They are also better suited for continuous learning. Our participants got a first-hand taste of this phenomenon this past weekend.    (ICF)

Third, we laid the groundwork for what I hope will be a burgeoning community devoted to improving the usability of Open Source software. This will not be a quick process, and it will depend on brilliant, passionate, good people. We were fortunate to have forty of them at our event, and I’m already looking forward to reconnecting with all of them.    (ICG)

I’m in the process of writing up a final report about the weekend’s accomplishments, but if you’re interested in seeing the unpolished artifacts of the event itself, check out the sprint Wiki and the photo gallery. I’ll also be speaking about the event at next month’s BayCHI (March 8 in Palo Alto), and I hope to see many of you there.    (ICH)