The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'flickr'
Facebook has just upgraded its photo sharing feature, increasing the maximum dimension along either axis from a miserly 720 pixels to 2,048 pixels, improving tagging and adding a lightbox interface. Some are saying that the upgrade poises Facebook to challenge Flickr as a serious photo sharing site (Facebook already hosts more than three times as many photos as Flickr does); however, the fact remains that photographs on Facebook still have a distinctive "Facebook style":
(The Facebook Style is not to be confused with the MySpace Angle, though it's presumably possible for a photograph to meet the definitions of both.)
A few days ago I ran into one of my nieces whom I hadn't seen for a while. She's a lively, sociable young woman and had recently returned from spending an enjoyable summer in Cape Cod. I asked if she had any photographs. "Sure," she said, launching her Facebook page, where there was an album of 150 images, which on inspection turned out to be a succession of more or less identical images of young men and women wearing silly grins and making faces at the camera.
Two things struck me about this album. The first was that it contained not a single image of Cape Cod. The other was how her photographs reminded me of those which appear on the Facebook pages of my own teenage children – which leads one to conjecture that there is now a "Facebook style" of photography, as distinctive in its way as that of the passport or wedding photograph.
Among Facebook's 15bn photographs there are, no doubt, some memorable and beautiful images, but to date I haven't seen any. That's not true of Flickr, which continues to be one of the wonders of the world and hosts hundreds of thousands of terrific pictures. More significantly, an increasing proportion of them are published under a Creative Commons licence, which means that they can be freely used for non-commercial purposes.
In any case, while Facebook's photo sharing tools may be improved, it is unlikely to become a Flickr-killing platform for strikingly beautiful photographs, for reasons of culture and function. Facebook is, after all, primarily a social site; its strengths come from the ability to share things meaningful to one's friends, which would be tediously mundane or irrelevant to anybody else. Few people are interested in identical mugshots of strangers gurning at the camera in pubs or backyards, though the family members and chums of the gurners in question probably are.
Flickr, meanwhile, is a site for publishing photographs, where the photographs are the primary focus. It has social features (users can favourite or comment on photos with their pseudonymous Flickr account IDs, and add other information about themselves), but they are secondary to the application of showing photographs. To wit, Flickr not only has keyword tags but also groups, with themes such as "sunsets", "wide-angle photos", "things which are red", or "Paris", where users can send their photos, making them available for viewing by strangers who share an interest in their theme. This is not something Facebook is good at. (Mind you, it goes both ways; Flickr recently added the ability to tag other Flickr users in photos, though that doesn't seem as useful as Facebook's person-tagging feature; unless one hangs out only with keen photographers, one's friends are unlikely to be on Flickr.) I don't think Facebook is going to eat Flickr's lunch any time soon. (Nor, for that matter, is Google's Picasa, nor any of the Flickr-alikes like Zooomr or Ipernity.)
And while we're on the subject of beautiful photos on Flickr, Ffffl*ckr is a new web-based tool which, given access to your Flickr account, will find other photos you are likely to like, by looking at photos your favourited and seeing what their takers favourited.
Today, we increasingly live in a world of software-mediated social interaction, and at this moment, Facebook is one of the largest such systems. As more people join Facebook, and it becomes an increasingly indispensible utility for connecting people, and the range of people one is connected to becomes much broader. Whereas once one's Facebook friends tended to be college buddies and close friends, they now include coworkers, family members, old schoolmates, neighbours and others.
Facebook's privacy options, however, haven't kept up with this change. When you post to your Facebook profile, there is no way to make posts visible by only a subset of your Facebook friends. So you're faced with the choice of self-censoring your posts to a level suitable for all users. You might not want your parents or employers to see photos of you partying, or might not want to bore your non-technical friends with talk about specialised subjects a subset of your friends would be interested in. So the end result is that Facebook is reduced to the lowest common denominator of subjects suitable for all audiences; things that won't shock or bore anyone. This leaves no suitable space for a large set of discussions: in-jokes between closely-knit groups of friends; specialist banter about C++ or football or archaeology; or even personal discussions you wouldn't necessarily want to share with your coworkers or casual acquaintances.
There are better ways to do this. The photo sharing site Flickr allows users to tag certain friends as "Family" or "Friends", and make some photos only visible to those groups. The LiveJournal system goes further, allowing users to define arbitrary numbers of friend groups and control who can see each post individually.
Facebook needs something like this if it's going to scale. It need not be an intrusive feature; a checkbox to the right of the "What's on your mind?" box, opening a "Show this post to: Everyone / All my friends / (groups)" drop-down, would suffice quite elegantly. (Something similar, of course, should be added for photos, notes and such, and made available to application developers.) This would make Facebook much more broadly useful as a tool for connecting people across the wide spectrum of social relationships they have in their lives.
Anyway, to wit, I have done the obvious thing about this deficiency and created a Facebook group about it. Perhaps if enough people join, the Facebook developers will listen.
As you know, tin is in my blood. For generations my family has worked with this most useful of metals. When I joined Yahoo! back in '21, it was a sheet-tin concern of great momentum, growth and innovation. I knew it was the place for me.Butterfield and Fake join a number of illustrious figures leaving Yahoo! recently. It is not clear what will happen to Flickr now; presumably it will continue on on its considerable momentum, until whoever's in charge at Yahoo (or Microsoft or News Corp. or whoever ends up buying it) cocks everything up, or else does a mp3.com and trashes it, replacing it with a craptacular new site also named flickr.com.
Speaking of craptacular sites, MySpace are redesigning their website to minimise some of the clutter, and have enlisted the services of design consultancy Adaptive Path. It's not clear how much suck they will end up removing, or whether the site will be significantly less unpleasant to use.
Holy shit, Microsoft have made an offer to buy Yahoo, for a generous US$44.6bn. I hope that this doesn't happen; given how Microsoft are fond of leveraging their power to lock people into using their products, a Microsoft-owned Yahoo would be bad news. We could probably expect things like YUI going the way of the Dimension X Java VRML libraries (remember those?) and Flickr being rewritten as a Silverlight application and/or requiring Windows Vista/7 to upload photos.
(via Boing Boing)
Another use for all those neatly tagged photos of tourist attractions on websites like Flickr: synthesising accurate 3D models from millions of photos, taken by amateurs from random angles:
To make the 3D digital model, the researchers first download photos of a landmark. For instance, they might download the roughly 60,000 pictures on Flickr that are tagged with the words "Statue of Liberty." The computer finds photos that it will be able to use in the reconstruction and discards pictures that are of low quality or have obstructions. Photo Tourism, a tool developed at the UW, then calculates where each person was standing when he or she took the photo. By comparing two photos of the same object that were taken from slightly different perspectives, the software applies principles of computer vision to figure out the distance to each point.
"We don't quite get the accuracy of a laser scanner, but we're in the ballpark," Seitz said. The recreations of Notre Dame show individual figures carved into the stone facade. A model of The Duomo in Pisa, Italy, a building about 160 feet tall, is accurate to within a few inches. The resolution of the 3D model mostly depends on the resolution of the original photos.The next step in the research will be to create a detailed 3D model of a city entirely from automatically sorted photos from the internet; Rome has been chosen as the city to thus recreate.
Photo-sharing site Flickr has recently implemented a draconian censorship policy; under the new policy, users in Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Germany are prevented from turning off content filtering which blocks them from seeing any accounts which have posted non-"safe" content. (I'm surprised that Australia, with its strict censorship regime, is not on this list. Perhaps they forgot about it?) There has been a firestorm of protest here.
Flickr's management have issued a sequence of content-free communiqués regretting the decision and saying that they're working on a solution, and basically spinning like Tony Blair on speed to appear cool and easy-going, without actually committing to any course of action; it appears that for all their professed hipness, they have as much input into how Flickr is actually run as Frank the Goat has into LiveJournal, and the risk-averse bean-counters and lawyers at Yahoo HQ are calling the shots.
Anyway, as long as this policy is in place, I will not be uploading new photographs to my Flickr account, and I urge those who are concerned about freedom of speech to do the same. Should this policy persist, I will look for alternative hosting for my photographs.
In their infinite wisdom, the management at Yahoo! head office decided, some time after buying Flickr, to eliminate old-sk00l Flickr accounts, and force everyone to get a Yahoo! ID. With the date of the shutdown looming (in two days' time), I have reluctantly walked the plank, Yahoo!'s cutlasses at my back, and jumped into the shark-infested waters of getting a Yahoo! ID (I had at least one, from years ago, which I didn't use, though I have now created a new one), and tying my Flickr account to it. My new ID is the same as my last.fm username, for what it's worth.
The ID came with free webmail, as everything does these days. Yahoo!'s new webmail client is quite an impressive showcase for the power of their AJAX user interface library, and does some quite slick things. Unfortunately, Yahoo! being considerably more corporate than Google, the pane in which you see your emails is tiny, with the bulk of the space being given over to a large, animated banner ad. (This is in addition to context-sensitive text ads.) I think I'll stick with Gmail for the time being, thanks.
I just hope that Yahoo! don't decide to fold Flickr into their mainstream photo-sharing site or otherwise attempt to maximise their revenue by cluttering it with ads.
BTW, those using Uploadr.py on Linux (or similar systems) to post to Flickr may be interested in knowing that there's now a new version that plays nicely with Yahoo! authentication.
Flickr has secretly added two new festive features. Adding a note with the text "ho ho ho hat" to a picture creates a resizeable Santa Claus hat overlay; meanwhile, making a note with the text "ho ho ho beard" creates, as you can probably guess, a white beard-shaped overlay:
(via Boing Boing)
Your humble correspondent is currently on the Continent, and hence blogging has been somewhat light. However, here are a few photographs from my journey so far, whilst passing through France:
Web 2.0 photo-sharing site Flickr has finally made it out of beta. Of course, it didn't do anything quite as gauche and pre-Web-2.0 as declaring itself to be a final release, so instead, it has changed "Beta" to "Gamma". Perhaps we can look forward to GMail and such following the lead and "Gamma" being the fashionable new label for web sites to wear?
Anyway, the Flickr upgrade does come with some enhancements, like nifty pop-up menus and a few extra browsing options.
Retrievr is a web-toy that lets you search images on Flickr by drawing things that look like what you're looking for on a Flash applet. It seems to go mostly by colour, rather than feature recognition, and seems to only search a small pre-cached subset of images (which tends towards the prettier end of the scale and includes a lot of sunsets, cats and arty black-and-white photos). As far as finding pictures of objects one draws, it's rather unsuccessful; though, nonetheless, it does yield interesting results.
(via The Fix)
flickrGraph is an applet for graphically browsing social networks on Flickr, not unlike the TouchGraph LiveJournal Browser in concept. Except, of course, it is a Flash applet, which means that it (a) looks k3wler, as large full-colour icons jiggle, bounce and rotate, and (b) is less usable, as large full-colour icons take up lots of screen space, bounce unstoppably and obscure controls.