Over the past few months, I have been trying to wean myself off Instagram and social media in general. There are many aspects of Instagram. I love dearly: my photography community and ability to connect and chat with others about the art, craft, and technicals of photography. And right in the middle of this rumination, I got an email from Flickr — they were going to allow me to have only 1000 photos on my Flickr account unless I upgraded to a pro account. I shrugged, saying to myself, who cares. A day later, I should check out my photos anyway.
Three hours later, I had upgraded to the Pro version, spending around $50 for the service. As I used the service, more it reminded me how brilliant it was at birth. It had cutesy homeliness, that is so quaint and awesome at the same time. It was amazingly powerful from a photography standpoint.
It was so far ahead of the curve: an ability to create tags out of meta-data, exif information as a way to navigate through photos, location as a way to be enthralled by a place and super fast uploads and RSS for everything. It is still web standards compliant. The community, the faves, the albums, and the stream — it had everything that you see everywhere. It was the genesis of the modern visual and social web.
And it is all there. As delightful as ever. Yahoo’s constant mismanagement, terrible product decisions, and mishandling have not been able to kill the grandmama of all social. It was hard not to spend $50 to be part of this place again. It is not nostalgia — no, not all. Instead, it was to be part of something that can show us that social web can be good and positive.
During the early days of Flickr, I didn’t take photos. It was a story. When Yahoo bought the company, I broke the story on my blog. It made news because the news was on a blog. Go figure. I made a mistake by hotlinking Caterina Fake’s photo. She Goatse-d me. I apologized. A friendship blossomed. Stewart Butterfield, the other Flickr co-founder, and the master of a pivot, now is the head honcho at Slack, where I am a nano-investor.
The world has moved on, but it wasn’t till this month, I started to appreciate the foresight and the specialness of Flickr, and it’s a foundational role in the history of the modern web. I am finding joy in it — and hopefully the new owner, SmugMug will be able to find ways to energize the community around it. They could start by bundling it with SmugMug Pro.
If there were one thing I could do differently today — I wouldn’t name my account, GigaOM. I want to change it, but I can’t. So, for now, I am stuck with it. Follow me on Flickr— it is good to say that!
February 21, 2019, San Francisco