money, technology

Whither Flickr?

Several months ago:

A friend then remarked that Flickr’s URLs were annoying (yes), and I added:

Well, Mat Honan at Gizmodo has made me feel a bit better about myself. Turns out, it’s probably not my fault. But I also now feel quite bad for Flickr and all of us who’ve been using it for so many years. As Mat portrays it, the post-acquisition Flickr history is a sad story of personality conflicts and crushing bureaucracy, one that turned a place on the internet that I loved going to into a ghost town—or a Potemkin village in which the activity of your Flickr friends, if they are active at all, are auto-postings done via Instagram or IFTTT. Who’s fault? It’s Yahoo! what done it.

Or not done it, as the story emphasizes—when opportunities to turn Flickr into something better, maybe bigger, came up, Yahoo just kind of stepped on the thing, placed its brand, it’s identity, it’s heavy bureaucratic Yahoo stamp on it.

Indeed, it was the first social network that I really engaged in. Yes, I did sign up for Friendster and added like eight pictures, and I might have a MySpace page that I never did anything with, so I’m actually not sure if I do have one. But Flickr was the one I invested in—and still invest in, paying for the Pro account so as not to lose the accumulated uploads and the comments and favorites and stats that have stuck to them like so many barnacles. Fortunately, there is the tiniest glimmer of hope at the end of the story that maybe Flickr will still be…something. I hope so, anyway.

Is the Flickr case a cautionary tale about what could happen to your startup when somebody bigger swallows it up, which seems to be the preferred exit for many tech entrepreneurs these days? Or just a cautionary tale about how screwed up things at Yahoo can be, even outside the boardroom? (The answers are “yes”, and “sure, why not,” respectively.) Either way, Mat’s story is worth a look:
How Yahoo Killed Flickr and Lost the Internet

geography, multimedia

Mapping Photos using GeoRSS

As I was finishing up my earlier post on the geotagging tutorial, Pankaj Garg of ZeeMaps sent me an e-mail. We had previously been in touch about the possibility of using a GeoRSS feed to map photos in ZeeMaps.

GeoRSS is exactly what it sounds like, an RSS feed for geo-encoded information. More people have GeoRSS feeds than they realize— Flickr assigns each user a GeoRSS—although most of those feeds are probably empty since geotagging images is still not a habit for most people.

georss link on flickr page

Flickr enables GeoRSS only for each user’s primary photostream and for individual tags (as in the image above). I mapped the same photos as in the earlier post. The difference this time in the process is that I exported directly from HoudahGeo to Flickr (after enabling geocoded metadata in Flickr) and assigning a unique tag to all of the photos; in this case, I tagged them with the date. (I suspect sets are not available for GeoRSS because you can rearrange image order, unlike in the photostream or tag streams.) This skips the .csv steps in the original tutorial I wrote. But Flickr may limit the number of entries in the feed, limiting the number of datapoints that will go on the map.

As mentioned previously, the advantage of mapping these in something like ZeeMaps is the ease in customizing and embedding the map. While Flickr can map my geotagged photos, all I seem to be able to do with it is link to the map. Here’s the rough workflow I used:

1. Copy the GeoRSS link from the 2008december4 tag page.

2. Create a new map in ZeeMaps and choose “KML, GeoRSS Add” from the Advanced menu:
menu item to add georss link

3. Paste in the GeoRSS link:
pasted georss link

The resulting map: