You want to put photos online. Which of the many services in this crowded space do you use?
This post was prompted by a recent conversations with friends who are considering this question, and by a recent post by Frederic at ReadWriteWeb. Frederic compares 10 services, while acknowledging that there are many more. He provides a good comparison between the 10, with a service/feature table and a couple of paragraphs on each of the 10.
I’ll complement Frederic’s post by focusing on user actions and priorities, rather than on services and features. I’ll start with the question: what do you want to do? I suggest that the following are among the most important actions for many of us.
Get started quickly, and then be able easily to work with the service, rather than having to spend time and effort working the service out. I’ve put ease of use at the top of the list, but it ease of use should flow down to the other items; in other words, everything else on the list should be easy, not just possible.
Share photos with others.
Specify who should, or should not, be able to see particular photos. This is the other side of the sharing coin. Sharing is important, and should be easy. But not sharing everything with everyone may also be important, and should also be easy.
Create stuff, such as prints and books, from the online photos.
Central to this list are the second and third points: the two sides of the sharing coin. If we take these as our twin starting points, we might quickly arrive at the conclusion that the service you should use is the one your friends and family use. If the service already knows about them, you can identify them as people with whom you want to share. Hence you can share photos of, say, your kids, with them, without having to make them visible to everyone on the web.
That suggests that, if you’re looking for an online photo service, you should use the one your community already uses. It may of course be more complicated than that. You probably have multiple communities; to take the example of one friend, I’m on Flickr, but the childcare we used to send our daughters to has a “room” on Snapfish.
I won’t even mention some of the other complications. Frederic covers some of them. Having contrasted his post with mine, I’ll finish on a note we can sing together. Flickr is the one to beat, and, for many of us, it has yet to be beaten.
One of my favorite Flickr groups is Bad Signs. I’ve contributed a photo or two over the years (yes, self, it has been that long).
I tried to get good photos of two of my current favorite bad signs, which happen to be less than a hundred yards apart in Jamaica Plain. Here’s one. Due to the setup of the sign and the driveway, I could have got a good shot of the sign itself or of the reason it’s a bad sign. Since this photo is a compromise that makes clear neither the sign nor the reason for its badness, I’ll explain. The sign says “Please do not block driveway. 24 hr access.” A glance at the car, its tires, and the vegetation around and in front of it suggests that the car hasn’t moved in 24 months, let alone 24 hours.
My attempts to capture the other sign were even less successful. It’s a sign that proclaims that “Boston police seek aggressive drivers.” It’s on the District E-13 police station. I’m wondering how many people have gone in there saying something like, “I’m an aggressive driver and I’d like to apply for the job.”
I thought it unwise to get to take a photo of that sign from too close. That would have put me either in the middle of Washington Street, which would have meant trouble with traffic, or right next to the sign itself and hence the station, which might have meant trouble with the police. “Ridicule of District E-13, eh? We don’t take kindly to people shooting that film.”
As I suspected, I’ve started to actually use the video feature of the digital camera since Flickr started allowing short video clips, as well as photos. Here’s a fascinating clip of me approaching a box that recently arrived rather worse for wear. It was shipped by Electronica Direct via the US Postal Service.
Did the contents survive the journey? What were they anyway? All will be revealed right here at this blog in a day or two.
For those of us who blog at WordPress.com, there’s already a shortcode making it easy to embed video from Flickr in a post. I’ll illustrate/test it with this clip, which looks to me like something from William Gibson.
I found the shortcode on the support forum, thanks to quxx/kellan. Like other WordPress.com shortcodes, it should be placed within square brackets. Then it’s just “flickr video=uri”. Note, by the way, that attribution for the video clip is built in to the clip itself.
A day after Flickr added video, there’s a NO VIDEO ON FLICKR!!! group with more than 7,000 members. I won’t be joining the group. That’s not just because its name is in all caps and I don’t like shouting. It’s because what Flickr is doing with video makes as much sense to me today as it did when I posted about it yesterday.
Of course, anyone can filter out videos from their search results just by clicking on the advanced search options. It would be nice if the feature were more prominently placed, but why ask Flickr to modify its search bar when you could just try to incite a riot?
Brad and Stephen’s comments together made me wonder if it’s possible to set up your Flickr account so that you don’t see video in search results. It doesn’t seem to be possible right now, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see that option appearing soon.
The advent of video on Flickr has been long. It’s hard to see how the birth could have been anything but an anticlimax (unless it happened in a stable with a star overhead, three righteous dudes bringing schwag, etc.).
There are limits on video clips. You have to have a Pro account, and you can’t upload videos longer than 90 seconds. Neither of these limits bothers me. I consider my Flickr Pro account $25/year well spent, even though it’s one of the very few web services for which I pay anything at all.
The 90 second limit reinforces Flickr as the site for stuff you took with your digital camera. Most such cameras can capture short video clips. I rarely use that feature of my camera, but Flickr Video might change that.
Yes, Flickr Video might have allowed long clips, and might have been free. But there would still have been an “is that all there is?” response, partly because of YouTube, partly because of the above-mentioned wait for Flickr Video.
By the way, I saw Mike’s post on Techmeme before it appears in my feed reader. That’s more of a positive comment on Techmeme than it is a negative comment on Google Reader.
Y!’s other musical move is the acquisition to Foxytunes. Hence Y! isn’t changing its mind about the importance of online music; what it’s changing is emphasis. By the way, I like the Foxytunes plugin. I trust Yahoo not to mess it up, but I’m not so sure about Microsoft.
I’ve seen several arguments that Yahoo will be able to fight off the Microsoft offer. Fred Wilson’s argument is one of the better supported.
But I just bet that Y! will accept Microsoft’s bid by February 8. I did so at the new Industry Standard, which includes a prediction market. I’m already annoyed with the Standard over niggling user interface details. For example, it took me multiple attempts to get through the signup screen. Once signed up, I spent some of my “$100,000” by entering “10,000.” I was told that my bid couldn’t include letters.
“Eye-fi is a magical orange SD memory card that will not only store 2GB worth of pictures, it’ll upload them to your computer, and to Flickr, Facebook, Picasa (or 14 others) wirelessly, invisibly, automatically!” I first saw that quote at Signal vs. Noise; it originated at the product page at Photojojo.
Would I like one? Yes please, along with some of the other cool photo-related stuff from Photojojo.
I created the image in the post from a photo already on Flickr, initiating the edit by clicking on the “edit in Picnik” icon above the original. No, that doesn’t mean that I used a time machine to go ahead a few months. It means that I’m using the Picnik add-on for Firefox.