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Picasa Web Album (Google's answer to Yahoo! Photos?)

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BLANKartist says:

It's by invitation only... for the moment.

picasa.google.com/web/help.html#faq

EDIT: I think this link makes more sense, you can request to sign up if you've got a Google account already.

picasaweb.google.com
Originally posted at 10:42PM, 13 June 2006 PDT (permalink)
BLANKartist edited this topic 96 months ago.

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Thomas Hawk says:

I haven't tried this yet, but one thing that I will say. On my blog I get more traffic from Google Images than any place else. The images that I upload with Picasa get fantastic Google juice. I've had my imags appear consistently on the first page search results for many, many terms. "Duck" "Rain" "San Francisco", etc.

By contrast, any of the photos that I blog with Flickr never appear anywhere near the front page of Google image search results. It's as if Google penalizes me for using Flickr, instead of their own property Picasa to upload.

I could live with this if I felt that I was getting Yahoo! juice from Flickr but even there Flickr/Yahoo Image Search integration is no better than Flickr/Google Image Search integration.

I do need to explore GoogleBase and suspect that images uploaded via GoogleBase may fare best of all in Google Image Search.

Just some thoughts.
96 months ago (permalink)

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emdot is a group administrator emdot says:

i don't want my photos indexed by the search engines. i wish that were an option.
96 months ago (permalink)

Mr DoeyBags [deleted] says:

Not sure I want googles "we own the web" attitute and there, you uploaded it, it belongs to us now, and we are watching attitute any near my photos thank you very much..... :)
Originally posted 96 months ago. (permalink)
Mr DoeyBags edited this topic 96 months ago.

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~libran.earth.sheep~ says:

if u have a gmail account u can access a variety of services dat google offers : orkut online community, google calendar, picasa photo album, etc.
all u need to do is simply login using ur gmail id. but again gmail also is by invite only. so d best thing to do(as i did) was ask sum1 u knw who has a gmail account to invite u.
every gmail user is given 99 free invites, vich is reset at regular intervals.
96 months ago (permalink)

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Simon Cockayne says:

@BLANKArtist Thanks for posting the info on Picasa web albums.

I do have a gmail account, it took me thirty seconds to sign on and access picasa web albums.

It took me another 30 seconds to realise that only 250 mb of storage is provided free.

One can upgrade to 6gb storage but that costs $25 a year.

I guess my question is...how much storage do I need? (I have started a new thread asking how to calculate flickr storage here)

Am I right that flickr gives me unlimited storage with my Pro account?

Cheers.
Originally posted 96 months ago. (permalink)
Simon Cockayne edited this topic 96 months ago.

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Leo Reynolds says:

What you get with a Flick Pro account:

* 2 GB monthly upload limit
* Unlimited storage
* Unlimited bandwidth
* Unlimited photosets
* Permanent archiving of high-resolution original images
* Ad-free browsing and sharing
96 months ago (permalink)

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Simon Cockayne says:

LeoL30, cheers.

Right...so when you consider unlimited storage on flickr, a 6gb limit on Picasa seems ridiculously constraining.
96 months ago (permalink)

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PhotoGraham says:

The main issue for me is there seems to be no community aspect to it. No comments, no groups. That makes it an entirely different concept to Flickr. It is a web album site, and probably a good one. 250MB is limiting but better than Flickr's 200 photo limit on free accounts.

[edit: I'm wrong on that last point. It depends on the size of your photos! If you upload 4Mpixel images at 2MBytes each you can only have 125 photos. If you upload smaller sizes only for web viewing you could get more than 200 photos. Also Flickr alows you to keep uploading past the 200 limit but only shows 200 in your photostream. Flickr wins this one I think.]
Originally posted 96 months ago. (permalink)
PhotoGraham edited this topic 96 months ago.

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Simon Cockayne says:

Good point. The community aspect is a weclome feature of flickr.
96 months ago (permalink)

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BLANKartist says:

I think Thomas is right. For pros, a community may be important, but the ability for somebody to search and come across your photos trumps that. And I've yet to meet somebody who's default search engine *isn't* Google.

I've just started dabbling with Googlebase, but it's not a particularily attractive way to browse photos. There isn't even a "photo" class. You have to manually create your own attributes.
Originally posted 96 months ago. (permalink)
BLANKartist edited this topic 96 months ago.

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BLANKartist says:

Awesome! The new Picasa supports Adobe DNG files! This is SO what I was looking for. Hopefully it will convert/resize on-the-fly when I upload to my Web Album.
96 months ago (permalink)

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Thomas Hawk says:

ahhhh, but will Picasa get a Flickr Commercial API in order to allow us to import our photos and tags directly into it like we can with tabblo. Somehow I doubt it.

I'd like to try Picasa and probably will shortly. I try most photo sharing sites and have thousands of my images up at Webshots, Riya, Zooomr, Vizrea, tabblo, etc. along with Flickr. But lately something has been bothering me. I'm investing many, many hours carefully documenting the metadata on my images (tags) but I'm increasingly becoming concerned that this data doesn't belong to me.

I see the longer term answer coming from Microsoft who will allow you to tag your photos directly on your hard drive coming up in Vista. I'd assume that Flickr and other photosharing sites will begin to automatically read this metadata from the source file, rather than make you re-enter the data a second time. But this doesn't make me feel entirely comfortable about the many hours that I've spent tagging my photos on flickr. I really do kind of see this labor as belonging to me more than it belongs to flickr.

What, if any, provisions is Flickr making (or should they be making) to ensure that the metadata that I build with my images is portable and can be imported and exported as I wish.

I was thinking about this specifically because as I mentioned above I do want my images indexed for search at Google and I do suspect that having them all in Picasa will help me with that. I do not relish having to respend the countless hours though retagging all of my images all over again a second time. The more I think about this the more important I think that this is going to become for me. Maybe this won't affect the causual user who doesn't tag much anyway and sure I can use downloadr to get all of my images back if I want them (although in my case this is not necessary as I keep all of my originals on hard drive). But for those of us who are taking tagging seriously and in some aspects contributing the very most to flickr, don't we deserve to have our metadata made portable. We did the vast majority of the work to get it where it is today.

Should I be denied the ability to export my metadata to Picasa just because Google is a competitor to Yahoo?
96 months ago (permalink)

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Brenda Anderson says:

I add descriptions and tag all my photos (using Photoshop Elements) before I upload them and Flickr grabs all that information. So my metadata is there on the originals if I ever need it back.

I can see the usefulness of being able to grab the metadata that I've added to the photos once they are on Flickr (say, a new tag because of a group, etc.) but it's not that big a deal to me.
96 months ago (permalink)

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Thomas Hawk says:

curiouskiwi. Maybe that's what I should start doing as well. Still, I hate to feel like all of the tags that I've already entered are somehow locked in flickr.
96 months ago (permalink)

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BLANKartist says:

The correct solution is to embed metadata directly into the files. Replying on web tagging only is really, really stupid. And for the record, Vista will not be the only solution. Other OSs will be able to to play too. :)

Picasa lets you create tags, but I'm not sure whether the data is being embedded directly, or if Picasa is creating a separate database somewhere. I had spent hours creating labels in the old Picasa only to have the database corrupted and lose everthing. My collections were preserved, but that's because those are tracked by invisible .ini files (which litter your hard drive after a while). Hopefully the new tagging system is more robust.
96 months ago (permalink)

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Eric Hunt. says:

Thomas - the IPTC header is your friend. You tag the actual image file using the various IPTC fields and the metadata stays on that image. Flickr reads three of them - one for the image title, another for the image description, and a third for keywords. There are over a dozen fields in IPTC, so you can use a rich variety of metadata should you want. It's my understanding that Stock agencies use IPTC extensively.

But to answer your question more directly - when you buy a DVD dump of your Flickr images it's advertised as coming with all of your metadata as well. I've not purchased a DVD of my photostream yet, so I can't be more specific.

(edit: typo)
Originally posted 96 months ago. (permalink)
Eric Hunt. edited this topic 96 months ago.

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Stewart is a group administrator Stewart says:

Thomas Hawk: "... but I'm increasingly becoming concerned that this data doesn't belong to me." & "I really do kind of see this labor as belonging to me more than it belongs to flickr" & "Should I be denied the ability to export my metadata to Picasa just because Google is a competitor to Yahoo?"

Your position strikes me as a little disingenuous. I know you know that we have an API (you even mention it at the top of your comment). We support tens of millions of API calls a day at no charge**. We spend a huge amount of time defending the rights of users, dealing with policy issues, explaining copyright laws, building technology to safeguard users' rights, etc. We take it extremely seriously.

Nowadays, many online services offer APIs as a matter of course, but when we released ours in 2004 that was not the case (note that even now, none of the other services you mention have an API, except Zooomr's partial support of the Flickr API). Why the suspicions of us then? Like, we've been playing along for years, but it's all been an extended ploy we're somehow about to screw you? We've been extremely open and we have no problem with people building tools to export their data from Flickr (there are several already). There is no lock in.

With respect to granting a commercial API license to a direct competitor: we might not. It kind of depends on the specific product, any relationship we have with them, whether we complement each other or not, etc. In the case of a truly direct competitor (and, so far, we have very few), we probably wouldn't. And I don't see that as malicious on our part: why should we burn bandwidth and CPU cycles sending stuff directly to their servers?

If a user developed it for their own purposes and distributed it, no problem. If they imported what the various Flickr exporting tools produced, no problem. We'd never go out of our way to block them -- we just wouldn't go out of our way to help them.

And here's the thing: back when we first started, we got asked to develop tools to bring in people's photos in from other sites (notably Buzznet, which started before us, was larger, and was popular for cameraphone users). We actually developed a tool to do that, but never released it. Why? Because it just seemed ... lame, and mean, and competitive in a bad way, at least if we did it ourselves. (If the market develops a solution on its own,again, no problem.)

Finally, re PicasaWeb: if Google requests a commercial API key from us, we'd consider it. But I wouldn't hold your breath on them asking us ;) On the flip side, for the last two years, hundreds (at least - probably thousands) of Picasa users have asked for a way to post directly from Picasa to Flickr (see the Picasa group on Google groups, the old Picasa forums, the Picasa group on Flickr, etc.) And that never happened, even when Picasa had no online component and even before we were acquired by Yahoo! But, eh ... you never know.

** We have commercial relationships with some users of the API, and they do pay us. This represents a small fraction of a percent of API use. In the future, we intend to make a self-serve commercial API program.

[edited to fix runaway italics]
Originally posted 96 months ago. (permalink)
Stewart (a group admin) edited this topic 96 months ago.

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Claudecf says:

Am I mistaken or does Picasa only work for PCs?
96 months ago (permalink)

Mr DoeyBags [deleted] says:

The next version of ACDSee will support flickr.
96 months ago (permalink)

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Paul L Dineen says:

"gmail also is by invite only. so d best thing to do(as i did) was ask sum1 u knw who has a gmail account to invite u."

You can get a gmail account if you have access to a cell phone in the US. IOW, in that case, an invite from someone isn't necessary. Via cell phone is how I got my gmail account.
96 months ago (permalink)

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Todd Kravos says:

if your creeped out by google getting a hold your mobile telephone number(like me), send me an email via *FLICKR* and include a *real email address* and I'll hook ya up.
i have *many* invites to pass around.....
Originally posted 96 months ago. (permalink)
Todd Kravos edited this topic 96 months ago.

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Todd Kravos says:

p.s. i have to wait for an official invite from google to use the new picasa even though my gmail ID is from the first month it was 'born'
96 months ago (permalink)

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beebo wallace is a group moderator beebo wallace says:

ACDsee is quite a cool program ... nice to hear that they are going to support Flickr ...
96 months ago (permalink)

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Thomas Hawk says:

Stewart, my concern is at the user level. If I spend hours and hours tagging my photos in flickr this data is not at present able to be exported to the best of my knowledge. It is essentially locked into flickr.

I've talked a lot about search in the past. I'd like my photos indexed for search. My past experience has been that photos that I've uploaded via Picasa get indexed really, really well for search at Google. Several of my Picasa uploaded images are on the first page search results for many terms on Google Image Search. A while back Choice Hotels found one of my photos via Google Image Search and paid me $500 to use it in a television commercial. For me that was kind of cool. I'm interested at the hobbyist level right now in opportunities like that. This is not my primary reason for posting to flickr but I think that there are a lot of us here that wouldn't mind the attention and possible opportunity from external search engines.

My Flickr Images by contrast fail to register significantly on either Google Image Search or Yahoo Image Search, or Image Search anywhere outside of Flickr. And so maybe Flickr doesn't want their images indexed, I don't know. But if I want to have my images indexed I think my tags will help Google better read the images in Picasa. But they are not my tags. They are flickr's tags. And the only site I've seen where I've been able to export them directly too is tabblo. I can't export them to Picasa, I can't export them to Zooomr, I can't export them to WebShots, I can't export them to Riya. I can't export them to Google Base where I suspect Google might index from most of all.

And while I appreciate flickr's stance towards ensuring that content owners own their content and a supportive environment that you speak of above, even as flickr too benefits, I'm not suspicious just frustrated.

I kind of feel like I was the one who took all of the time to meticulously tag my photos. I contribute heavily towards photos of flickr. Even beyond my own tags I tag a lot more photos than others tag mine -- because I think the metadata is cool and useful and fucntional.

But it seems to me like it's only functional to me within the confines of flickr. And I guess like my photos, my tags feel like they kind of belong to me. I'm sure in a legal sense they don't but since I did the majority of the work tagging them it just feels this way. I've got 5,600+ photos or so on Flickr and add new ones every day. I'd like to get it to 100,000 someday.

Obviously photos and tags can be transferred to other sites. Tabblo already an example of that. And I already transferred all of my photos and tags from Tabblo pretty much the day they launched. That seemed really cool to me. Do I spend much time on Tabblo? No. I've got two tabblos and that's it. Because it's nowhere near as cool as flickr. But I sure wouldn't mind having all my photos sitting in Picasa indexed highly by Google for search. And this I can't do today. So I'm frustrated.

And I'm thinking about trying to, in fact, put something together as we speak, in the stock business. It may be pie in the sky stuff right now but I'd like to figure out a way for talented amateurs to monetize their libraries of images. For the non-pro photorapher I'd like to figure out a way where an on ramp to a career in photography can be built. A sort of transitionary agency between part time talented amateur work and full time stock or fine art work. Tag search would be critical to this. If I could figure this idea out and somehow create a business around it search and keyword tagging would play a critical role.

"On the flip side, for the last two years, hundreds (at least - probably thousands) of Picasa users have asked for a way to post directly from Picasa to Flickr"

And I think I'd be just as critical of Picasa for this as I feel about Flickr right now. But you're right. Probalby all that bullshit about Google doing no evil is just that bullshit. Google too is a business and they probably want to lock their users in. So I probably shouldn't hold my breath there either.

The problem is probably of my own making because I probably should have been tagging at the IPTC header level instead of on Flickr in the first place as has been suggested above. Vista will make it far easier to tag photos this way from the betas that I've played with.

"building tools to export their data from Flickr (there are several already)."

But not to export tagged photos that I'm aware of. But I might be wrong about this and this is good to hear. Unfortunately I have zero programming skills but it's nice to know that the possibility might exist that someone else could build such a tool someday.
96 months ago (permalink)

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julian- is a group administrator julian- says:

"why should we burn bandwidth and CPU cycles sending stuff directly to their servers?"

Because it's our stuff and we've paid you to look after it.
Originally posted 96 months ago. (permalink)
julian- (a group admin) edited this topic 96 months ago.

Michel ! [deleted] says:

tags and more generally, metada entered by humans, is a means used by yahoo! to increase its revenues from ads , to get better search results, and to fill the gap with Google and Microsoft.

You can understand why Yahoo! acquired del.icio.us and Flickr. You'll get more accurate results when searching for photos with keywords, if these keywords can easily match data attached to photos, that is tags. (see also the new yahoo! "toy" : answers , answers.yahoo.com/ , a "social search engine", more on yahoo! search blog: www.ysearchblog.com/archives/000242.html )

As Stewart said in this interview ( www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/network/2005/02/04/sb_flckr.html)

" ... The other side is monetizing the whole collection of photos, essentially advertising. If you look at photos that are tagged with "Italy," you'll probably see ads for hotels in Italy, tours of Piedmont and whatever "


To sum up, tags are a cornerstone of the flickr system and its business model.

Whose tags are these anyway ?

I'm not saying it's right or wrong by the way. ( well, maybe)

So I'm rather doubtful that flickr will ever sell an API key to a "big" competitor as Google.


And finally, it does not seem difficult to me to write a program that would read your tags in flickr, inject them in the IPTC fields of a copy of your photo, and finally replace the original photo with the new one. Your tags will be embedded in your photo.

just my two cents
Originally posted 96 months ago. (permalink)
Michel ! edited this topic 96 months ago.

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Eric Hunt. says:

Thomas - interesting observation - I find that many of my plant photos are returned on the first page, usually in the top 5 results, of a google search (not an image search) on any given species name.
96 months ago (permalink)

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DaPhranksta says:

I used to have lotsa Google stuff installed on my PC's, like Picasa, Google Desktop and so forth.

But after reading this www.google-watch.org I removed everything that comes from Google.

I'd rather be safe then sorry...
96 months ago (permalink)

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Peter says:

someone must have already written an API tool to pull a users tag info into IPTC..? (as per julian~'s comment)
96 months ago (permalink)

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Brenda Anderson says:

The fellow who developed Flickrbackup is working on a version that will write the tags/descriptions/notes/comments into the IPTC/EXIF data on backup.
96 months ago (permalink)

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Thomas Hawk says:

"The fellow who developed Flickrbackup is working on a version that will write the tags/descriptions/notes/comments into the IPTC/EXIF data on backup. "

This is great and I'll look forward to trying it. Still, quite a bit more work than simply transferring them over like I did with tabblo.

And, I still have no way right now of getting all my tagged photos over onto Picasa where they might be better indexed for search or any other photo service beyond tabblo for that matter. It still feels like my tags are trapped to me.
Originally posted 96 months ago. (permalink)
Thomas Hawk edited this topic 96 months ago.

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Firesign says:

@claudecf - in their specs they mention safari, so macs are in.
96 months ago (permalink)

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Thomas Hawk says:

"Thomas - interesting observation - I find that many of my plant photos are returned on the first page, usually in the top 5 results, of a google search (not an image search) on any given species name."

Many art directors are using Google Images to find images these days. They then contact the owner and offer to buy it. As mentioned before I've sold one of my own to Choice Hotels for $500. Flickr images seem to be largely ignored (in my experience) by Google Image Search. They certainly are there and flickr users certainly get indexed in regular non Google Image searchs, but they are nowhere near the important first few pages of Image Search results.

Go to Google Image Search and try searching. Type in "cow" or "pig" or even "cat" and you get zero Flickr first page results. But type in "pig" in image search and you will see on the first page result an image of mine right now uploaded with Picasa. And feel free to make whatever Thomas Hawk pig jokes you'd like. I don't look anything like the pig in my picture.

So without better insight from either Flickr or Google (who won't talk about these things) I assume that either Google discriminates against flickr photos (perhaps because Yahoo! owns them) or that Flickr uses technology to impede these photos for Google Image Search. Flickr is too rich a place to find photos in my opinion to believe that it's just ignored out of coincidence. I might just believe the Google conspiracy thing except for the fact that even Yahoo! Image Search doesn't promote flickr photos either. So like I said maybe Flickr doesn't want their photos indexed. Fine. That's their decision to make. But if other photo sharing sites feel differently I feel like I should be able to put my photos there and I think it should be made easier for me to do so than having to manually retag everything at this point.

I understand and can appreciate the desire to not help competitors but it still sucks not to be able to get my tagged images onto other sites. And to this extent the tags don't feel like mine at all. That's all I'm saying.
Originally posted 96 months ago. (permalink)
Thomas Hawk edited this topic 96 months ago.

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Thomas Hawk says:

Stewart: Finally, re PicasaWeb: if Google requests a commercial API key from us, we'd consider it. I actually find this more disengenious. Google hasn't asked for a commercial API key because they know the answer would be no. Zooomr's already asked and in fact the answer was no.
96 months ago (permalink)

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Yolise says:

I'd like a way of preventing search engines from indexing my images as well. I know there's a post in Flickr Ideas somewhere, so I won't run off and add one, but I would if there wasn't. :-)
96 months ago (permalink)

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Van in LA says:

"maybe Flickr doesn't want their photos indexed. Fine."

I doubt it, go ahead, google image search "Nymphaea sumptuosa" and the first result is my flickr photo of same. This is the result for many of my plant or flower images, same as Eric mentioned.

I think you're asking a lot for your general flickr photo searches to turn up on the first google page. The world doesn't revolve around Thomas Hawk (yet).

BTW, yaay, Brenda that sounds like a terrific utility!
Originally posted 96 months ago. (permalink)
Van in LA edited this topic 96 months ago.

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Thomas Hawk says:

Yolise, and I think that's fine and certainly valid. And I think Flickr might feel the same way hence the poor indexing as it is now. I'm all for user choice. But if Flickr does a poor job at indexing and Picassa does a great job at indexing then I should have an option to move my photos there as well. It's not a takeaway from Flickr. I can't imagine ever not being very very active at flickr. I've got most of my photos on half a dozen other sites already but I spend the most time here by far.

I suspect that my tags would help Picasa better index my images but I can't access my tags without manually retyping them all. This sucks and in that sense they don't belong to me at all. Other sites could easily allow me to transfer both my images and tags into their site. tabblo is already an example of that. The problem is that they need access to a commercial API and as Stewart said before he's not inclined to use bandwidth and CPU cycles to help a competitor. So bottom line is my tags can't easily be transferred.

I'd be all for, by the way, an option that a user could check to either allow heavy indexing of their images for Yahoo/Google/etc. or to allow no indexing by Yahoo/Google, etc.

I also want to build a business at some point to try and help emerging fine art photographers (myself included) market their work. I'd much rather Flickr do this but my impression is that this is not necessarily where Flickr/Yahoo wants to go. I can imagine a scenario in the future where even if I could get an idea like this off the ground that were I to ask flickr for a commercial API key to help users move their libraries into a site to monetize them that I too would be denied.

Here is the basic framework of what I have in mind for a business by the way. www.flickr.mud.yahoo.com/groups/utata/discuss/21907/page2...

It doesn't exist anywhere today. I wish it did.
96 months ago (permalink)

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Yolise says:

Utata threads can't be viewed by non-utata members, Thomas.
96 months ago (permalink)

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Thomas Hawk says:

Van, "Nymphaea sumptuosa" shows up because there are only two images in all of Google Image Search for it. Many other Flickr Images show up in Google Image Search too they are just buried unless very obscure. Type in any term with a large library of images and Flickr is typically nowhere near the first page results. Not "Thomas Hawk's" Flickr images, no flickr images. With as many great images that flickr has I find this more than coincidence.

I think you're asking a lot for your general flickr photo searches to turn up on the first google page.

And yet many of my picasa uploaded photos do actually show up on Google's first page Image Searches. I'm not asking for Yahoo/Flickr to index my images on the first page. I'm asking for the capibility to transfer my tagged images to another site that might index them better than flickr does. I kind of feel like that's my right. And I can do this, I just can't do it with my tags is all.
96 months ago (permalink)

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Thomas Hawk says:

Utata threads can't be viewed by non-utata members, Thomas.

Oops, sorry about that. Here's my business plan cut and pasted from the Utata thread. The thread by the way is by Catherine Jamieson is entitled "Who Sells or Wants to Sell their Work."

I've been shooting freelance stuff for San Francisco Magazine for the past 5 months or so. They actually are putting one of my photos on the cover in their big Best of San Francisco issue. And I've been making some money through that.

I'm extremely interested in building a company or agency or whatever that caters to the pro/am and helps them market their images. I've been interviewing with people about this and doing mostly research at this point but the way I see it there are a lot of ways that pro/am photographers can make money with their work.

1. Sell prints. I've been talking with some folks that would do all the framing/matting/shipping/mailing etc. The idea would be that people pull down your images and then can buy prints. It would be up to the artist as to how they were sold, limited edition, unlimited, size, format etc. The key though would be to make it super easy for the artist. They in fact would have to do nothing except post their images and maybe sign limited edition prints.

2. Sell stock photography. I think that there is a sweet spot between the Getty Images/Corbis of the world and the almost freebie stuff at iStockphoto. I think sellling stock in a more simplified manner at maybe $100-$400 per image would have a lot of appeal to marketers.

3. Get freelance work for photographers. The idea here would be to play matchmaker. Lots of publications are looking for specific assignment work. They could post an assignment and then local photographers could offer to shoot. Let's say there were three photographers willing to go do a shoot for money, the publication could then look at the three and pick one. Even thiings like weddings, shooting kids, etc. Kind of like a Craig'slist for photography but where buyers could actually see the work of the person that they might hire.

4. Possibly open a real life actual physical gallery in San Francisco. You could showcase your member's work on there. Assuming a retail strategy could work and could be succesful consider expanding these types of galleries in other cities. These galleries might also be set up to serve beer and wine and they could be used as places for flickr meetups, other tech meetups, etc. There are two galleries like this in San Francisco now, 111 Minna and Varnish. I don't know about the economics of this side of the business though. I've been talking with SeenyaRita about something like this as well. It would be super cool to have a place to hang out for photographers and flickr users.

5. Build photoblog templates for your members that they could use to customize their work. These templates would direct people back to the main site to buy work and could also contain advertisments if a user desired where they could earn ad revenue.

My thoughts would be to use a site like this to provide either an onramp for the hobbyist to ramp up and turn pro over time or simply as a place for the person that can't leave their full time job etc. to make some extra money with their passion, photography.

The idea would be to let users choose modules if they wanted. They could for instance sell prints and not stock or vice versa. Or they could sell both.

I think that there would be a demand for a site like this from both users as well as from marketers. Some of our work is quite good it's just that as non pros it's difficult to get past the traditional gatekeepers of the fine art and stock business. A site like this would be designed to bypass the gatekeepers and allow it's members the ability to connect directly to marketers and art buyers.

Again it's very early and I'm really only in the research stage on all of this but I think our work is good enough and for those of us who want to begin to earn our living in photography a tool like this doesn't exist today.

Of course I'd be thrilled to see flickr offer us a suite of tools to do this but I don't think that is where they are headed.

96 months ago (permalink)

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Van in LA says:

That's only one example. Pick any of the couple thousand specific species names I've labeled, and they show up high in the google image search.

So use Picasa to upload then and stop being such a whinger. Flickr might allow you that privilege, but I'd hardly call it a right, nor for twenty-five bucks a year would I expect it.

There are a bazillion sites for art photographers to market their work already. Smugmug, photographer's direct, etc.

Careful with the 'fine art photography' lingo - that has a specific meaning. It means that the artist was personally involved in the printing process. Sending it off to be printed by someone else doesn't count.
Originally posted 96 months ago. (permalink)
Van in LA edited this topic 96 months ago.

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aqui-ali says:

That's a very limited definition of fine art. Reminds me of the old Duchamp ready-made controversies of 80 years ago.

Fine art is in the eye of the beholder...
Originally posted 96 months ago. (permalink)
aqui-ali edited this topic 96 months ago.

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Thomas Hawk says:

"So use Picasa to upload then and stop being such a whinger. Flickr might allow you that privilege, but I'd hardly call it a right, nor for twenty-five bucks a year would I expect it."

Van, Flickr is what it is because of user generated content. Flickr would be nothing without it's users. They have profitted personally and significantly from this. And as they should. They definitely deserve this, all the success, all the money, all the fame, etc.

The point is that I *can't* use Picasa to upload my tagged photos at this point. That I must spend hours and hours and hours manually retagging them if that's what I want.

Pick any of the couple thousand specific species names I've labeled, and they show up high in the google image search.

So then show us a Google Image Search with lots of results where a Flickr image ranks highly. And although I'm sure there are some there are 100 others where flickr doesn't show at all. Pick the most common things "sunset", no. "San Francisco", no. "New York," no. "Seattle," no (but there is one of my images uploaded with Picasa on the first page Google Image search for Seattle). Some obscure latin term? yeah, sure.

My point in all of this is that I've just started realizing for the first time that all this work I've done with my tags doesn't really belong to me in the user generated content contract after all. Fine. It just rubs me the wrong way.
96 months ago (permalink)

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Van in LA says:

aqui-ali - I didn't make that definition, but I agree with it, so unless I'm controlling the entire process with my own hands and eyes, I'm not going to call prints of my work "fine-art". "Art", yes, "Fine Art", no.

Oh, and Thomas, I don't really care. Take it to FlickrIdeas.
Originally posted 96 months ago. (permalink)
Van in LA edited this topic 96 months ago.

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Thomas Hawk says:

"so unless I'm controlling the entire process with my own hands and eyes, I'm not going to call prints of my work "fine-art". "Art", yes, "Fine Art", no."

Yeah, I'm sure most fine art painters stretch their own canvas too. Reminds me of the same people who object to people using photoshop on their photographs, as though it somehow invalidates the creative process. Doing every manual task associated with creating your work does not invalidate it or somehow reduce it's significance.

From Wikipedia on Andy Warhol: "He hired and supervised "art workers" engaged in making prints, shoes, films, books and other items at his studio, The Factory, located on Union Square in New York. Warhol's body of work furthermore includes commissioned portraits and commercials..." blah, blah, blah.

And I'm sure folks shouldn't be calling Warhol's work "fine art" either.
Originally posted 96 months ago. (permalink)
Thomas Hawk edited this topic 96 months ago.

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aqui-ali says:

Not to mention that a large part the Sistine Chapel ceiling painting was executed by a cadre of understudies under the direction of Michaelangelo, as was many other Renaissance art pieces...
Originally posted 96 months ago. (permalink)
aqui-ali edited this topic 96 months ago.

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Yolise says:

I think that Van is talking about the specific "Fine Art" photographic market, not the perception of photos as being art or not. I do seem to recall that it is a definition used by museums, galleries and auction houses. I would assume that it requires a specific archival permanance as well as being signed and of a limited edition. As such, it's possible that digital photos may not count as "Fine Art" - at least not to Sotheby's and the like.
Originally posted 96 months ago. (permalink)
Yolise edited this topic 96 months ago.

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Van in LA says:

[edit - Bingo, Yolise, thanks for saying it better than I could.]

Whatever, call them what you like. The whole world is calling this "." a dot. It's still a point, period, or full-stop to me. This "·" is a dot.
Originally posted 96 months ago. (permalink)
Van in LA edited this topic 96 months ago.

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Thomas Hawk says:

"As such, it's possible that digital photos may not count as "Fine Art" - at least not to Sotheby's and the like. "

The whole point to my idea in the business is to bypass these gatekeepers who have traditionally told you what to buy. It's ridiculous. These gatekeepers are the problem. It's a small pool of gallery owners, auction houses and currators that not only decide who gets seen and who doesn't, but they even tell you what to buy. They are the ones deciding what's art and what's not art and I'd like to see the whole thing opened up and democratized. I'd like to see the wave of super talented people I've seen on places like flickr have an opportunity to go direct via the internet instead.

But this is getting off my point that I think it sucks that my tags are stuck at flickr. By the way, interestingly enough today Riya is announcing that they will become a major image search engine.

www.siliconbeat.com/entries/2006/06/15/riya_supersizes_pl...

I've had all of my images at Riya for a while now. But I have none of my tags at Riya. I'd imagine these tags might help Riya index my work.
96 months ago (permalink)

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Van in LA says:

And it's a great idea for FlickrIdeas, dude. Or shall we just re-name FlickrCentral to Thomas Hawk Central?

Damn, I'm feeling a certain "brockiness" today, I think I'll go have lunch and a lie-down.
96 months ago (permalink)

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Yolise says:

"They are the ones deciding what's art and what's not art and I'd like to see the whole thing opened up and democratized"

Again, it's not that they are saying what is and isn't "art". It's about specific definitions. For example, a woodcut is a piece of art created with a wooden block. You could make something that looks like a woodcut in photoshop, but that does not make it a woodcut to a museum.

Museums are important repositories of cultural artifacts. Just because your photos won't appear there right now does not make them less artistic and there's no need to get huffy about it. Museums and auction houses aren't telling people what to buy, they are simply selling things of value to the people who can afford them.

The vast majority of people are not going to buy an original Cartier-Bresson from Sotheby's, so you really have nothing to fear from the likes of them.
Originally posted 96 months ago. (permalink)
Yolise edited this topic 96 months ago.

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Stewart is a group administrator Stewart says:

Since there are now many different topics merged in this thread, I'll do different posts to address some of them (I'm not touching "fine art"/"Fine Art" though ;)

Re search indexing: we definitely don't do anything to impede indexing of flickr.com. I also doubt that Google does anything to specifically penalize Flickr (though, of couse, I have no idea - just guessing). If Flickr images don't show up highly there, it most likely has to do with their relevancy algorithm, the structure of our pages, or the interaction thereof.

It's important to note that, at least based on what people say in help cases and the various fora on this site, MANY more people *don't* want their images showing up in Google/Yahoo/MSN/etc. image search than do (as far as I can remember, Thomas is the only person that's been visibly passionate about getting his images indexed).

As for having Flickr images fed into Yahoo's image search, we didn't want that to happen until (a) Flickr users had a way to opt out of API-based search (which is now built and available on your account page) and (b) the image search results credited the user, linked to the photo page, etc., since one of the fundamental good things about Flickr is that there is a person behind every photo. We don't want to break that and have it show up as the typical "here's the jpg file, here's the page we found it on, here are the dimensions".

(I don't see the connection between Google's relevancy ranking in image search and whether tags "belong" to you or not, so I'm not sure what to say about that.)
96 months ago (permalink)

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Stewart is a group administrator Stewart says:

Re API keys for direct competitors: this is something that we've never had any set policy on and this thread has sparked a lot of internal debate on the team: some people felt that it was unreasonable, some people felt like it didn't matter since Flickr should win on the basis of being the best thing out there.

I actually had a change of heart and was convinced by Eric's position that we definitely should approve requests from direct competitors as long as they do the same. That means (a) that they need to have a full and complete API and (b) be willing to give us access.

The reasoning here is partly just that "fair's fair' and more subtly, like a GPL license, it enforces user freedom down the chain. I think we'll take this approach (still discussing it internally).
96 months ago (permalink)

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Dshalock® Libertarian Emperor of America says:

@Stewart - thanks for the posts. As someone who absolutely loves Flickr its nice to see that you as a company pay as much attention as you do to the user community you have brought together and that you openly communicate with those who use your service. Its refreshing and one of the reasons I think Flickr is so great.
Originally posted 96 months ago. (permalink)
Dshalock® Libertarian Emperor of America edited this topic 96 months ago.

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Stewart is a group administrator Stewart says:

Thanks :)
96 months ago (permalink)

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Stewart is a group administrator Stewart says:

Re Using the .jpeg file istelf as a metadata store: It took me a long time to understand what Thomas was saying here (in the same comment saying that he exported photos and metadata to Tabblo and then saying it was impossible to export photos and metadata, which left me a little confused). But now I think I get it: there's no way to export from Flickr with the metadata in the headers of the jpeg files.

That's true. It's also technically impossible to build something like Flickr (or even a desktop photo management program with search capailities) without some kind of database. Having the data in discrete jpegs that you'd have to open and query for each action just wouldn't work.

Since most people's PC's are idle 99% of the time, it's fairly easy for a desktop program to insert the metadata into the jpeg when you edit and keep that in sync with the database. On a server based system where you might have thousands of additions, edits and updates each second, writing the metadata into the jpeg files isn't really feasible in real time. (We've also tried to design Flickr so that it doesn't touch the original images *at all* -- e.g., we don't rotate the original -- so you can get them back the way you put them in.)

However, we've always intended to build a backup service that would do everything: put the metadata into the files, build static html pages for browsing, build a static search index for the backed-up photos/data, etc. It just (like several hundred other things) hasn't happened yet.

(Note that: this is also something that we'd have to limit in some way (e.g., people get a fixed number of exports each year or have to pay a nominal fee, etc.) since the process of exporting every single piece of data (querying it, building indices, etc.) and various sizes of photos, plus the originals, etc. would be very intense in terms of CPU and bandwidth.)

Of couse, as noted by others, it is not particularly difficult for someone else to build this service, and as I said, we'd have no objections (there are already backup tools).
96 months ago (permalink)

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Thomas Hawk says:

Re API keys for direct competitors: this is something that we've never had any set policy on and this thread has sparked a lot of internal debate on the team: some people felt that it was unreasonable, some people felt like it didn't matter since Flickr should win on the basis of being the best thing out there.

I actually had a change of heart and was convinced by Eric's position that we definitely should approve requests from direct competitors as long as they do the same. That means (a) that they need to have a full and complete API and (b) be willing to give us access.


Stewart this is really good to hear. And I appreciate the change of heart. What I meant with tabblo is that they have the capability (built on their end if I understand it correctly) to import all of my images and tags from flickr. I've in fact done this there. I don't think the tags are actually imbedded in the .jpg file when they import, I think they actually use your commercial API to pull the tags from Flickr's database. It doesn't really matter to me whether the data resides in the .jpg or in the flickr database, as long as flickr is willing to let others get at my data from your database (tags) when initiated by me the user on my own personal photos.

I like the idea of tagging and creating richer and richer and richer metadata over time but I want to feel like I have some level of control via exportability and transferability of this data. With my RSS reader for instance I can export an OPML file and import it into any other RSS reader that I like. Photographs are more complicated of course, but I'm pleased that there is a willingness on flickr's part to say yes if a competitor requests a commerical API key to import. I also hope that someone develops a tool at some point that will do this as initiated by the actual user too. I wish I could write one myself and if I had any idea what I'm doing I would but I don't.

Like Dshalock I too am really pleased by the way to see you answer these things here. It is very meaningful that you are willing to interact with flickr users. You don't have to do that of course and most large company executives never do. You of course though are not like most large company executives.
96 months ago (permalink)

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Thomas Hawk says:

I also doubt that Google does anything to specifically penalize Flickr (though, of couse, I have no idea - just guessing).

Maybe not. But it's hard for me to grasp why I have many of my images appear ranked highly in Google Image Search. They actually bring more traffic to my blog than any other source consistently. I have and continue to have, as Google reindexes about once every two months, many many of my images show up in first page search results. The only thing these images have in common is that they were uploaded with Picasa and I've used Picasa html code to paste into the blog entry. When I use the exact same structure but paste flickr html code for the image they get ignored. The only exception to this is one image that comes up on like the third page of search results for the search "Pussycat Dolls" images.google.com/images?q=pussycat+dolls&svnum=100&a...

"As for having Flickr images fed into Yahoo's image search, we didn't want that to happen until (a) Flickr users had a way to opt out of API-based search (which is now built and available on your account page) and (b) the image search results credited the user, linked to the photo page, etc.,"

Ok, this is great to hear. And I definitely don't have a problem with people opting out and it sounds like now they have a way to do this. It sounds like you guys are planning on letting Yahoo! index flickr images once you can get it worked out where it links back to the user. This is even better than a static image of course and I think that's exciting. It's nice to know that this is in the works.
96 months ago (permalink)

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Yolise says:

which is now built and available on your account page

Ooh, nice one! Thanks for that!
96 months ago (permalink)

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styler* says:

wow i didn't know that
was that aprt of all the gamma newness?
or am i slow?
96 months ago (permalink)

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striatic is a group administrator striatic says:

(If the market develops a solution on its own,again, no problem.)

the problem is that any solution the market develops will require a download and and re-upload on flickr user's part.

a sideload is the most effecient, and easiest on the flickr user .. and yet this is the one form of data transfer flickr wants to curtail.

it is ANNOYING to have to download all of these photos and even more annoying to have to reupload them to another service.

the worst part is that the annoyance is brought to bear upon the flickr user, as flickr and the competing service don't suffer any more or less in this three party data transfer.

The reasoning here is partly just that "fair's fair' and more subtly, like a GPL license, it enforces user freedom down the chain. I think we'll take this approach (still discussing it internally).

is it flickr's place to enforce this? if a user wants to move data to a 'non open' competing server, i think this is the user's perogative and flickr should support that decision as much as they'd support a decision to back up a flickr stream to a hard drive.

trust users to know what's best for their data, support them in doing what they want with their data, and get out of the way.

if someone wants to apply GPL philosophy and only put their data on open API enabled servers, swell .. but why does flickr want to make that decision on the user's behalf?

i'm of two minds about the last bit, because i can see myself wanting to sideload to competing services that might not have an API built to 'flickr standards' .. but on the other hand, the possibility for increasingly ubiquitous data portability could be furthered by flickr's iron openess-enforcing fist.

ultimately, i think i prefer the idea of thousands or millions of iron fists over the idea of one large fist.
Originally posted 96 months ago. (permalink)
striatic (a group admin) edited this topic 96 months ago.

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Nico.... says:

Ok, well I have been playing with this briefly and here is the result, which I'm assured you should all be able to view:

picasaweb.google.com/nico.morgan/SpringInMyGarden

Seems ok, if a little barren compared to the wealth of features and community-orientated elements of Flickr.

One of the new features of Picasa which I like, besides the web albums, is the ability to geo-tag your pics using Google Earth. Select the option from the menu and Gearth is spawned, along with a geo-tagging dialogue which couldn't be easier to use.

Add to this Publish by FTP which appears to create web-based albums for you, ready for direct FTP to your own site, thus removing the need for the web album service if you have space available of your own.
Originally posted 96 months ago. (permalink)
Nico.... edited this topic 96 months ago.

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Yolise says:

it is ANNOYING to have to download all of these photos and even more annoying to have to reupload them to another service.

But surely it's standard practise? When I purchase a content management system, that system may provide a way to migrate my data from a competing servise to their system, but would not provide a way to migrate away. If Picassa wants to provide a method to migrate away from Flickr, then surely that's their job, not Flickr's? Flickr has said that they support backup tools and the like, so presumably they are not getting in the way of that?
96 months ago (permalink)

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Stewart is a group administrator Stewart says:

ellipse: it wasn't part of Gamma, AND you aren't slow: we just never announced it. It's more for people who request it (so the help team can point them to it) than a feature we expect to be widely used.
96 months ago (permalink)

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hanapbuhay says:

Nico, thanks for sharing your Picasa album. I was excited to see what Google would come up with, but they let me down when I noticed picassa.google.com only allows 250mb of free storage.

Weak offer there Google.

Stewart... I so wish Google purchased you guys instead. What is Yahoo doing with Yahoo Photos? Why haven't you merged your applications? (Yahoo Photos and Flickr). It looks like the Yahoo Photos development team and the Flickr dev team don't talk to each other.

If you have some documentation with reasons to the differences, you'd make one Flickr happier on a late Friday night. Thanks.

Thomas, keep up the good work. Thanks for voicing what you believe.
96 months ago (permalink)

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Stewart is a group administrator Stewart says:

striatic: I think you rambled a few steps beyond me. We obviously don't have the keys to Google's servers and I'd be astonished if they built an import tool, so practically speaking it doesn't matter whether we'd give them access to the API. The fact that there are no services on the web that work in the way you describe is a pretty good indicator of the feasibility.

(No services that I know of anyway, and I watch this stuff pretty closely.) That's why you download an OPML file and upload it somewhere else. More generally, that's why there .csv format, and XML all over the place, a zillion IEEE, ISO, ITU and IETF standards, and things like EXIF, DOPF, ITPC and XMP for photos. That's why you export your blog from one service and import it to another.

And that's why I was talking about embedding information in the jpg files - the only way you get real interoperability is with a standard. Most people with digital cameras use their PCs to manage their photos. What are the chances that Microsoft builds a Flickr API-based Flickr importer into Windows or Apple builds one into OS X? Or Adobe Photoshop Album, Picasa (the desktop client), ACDSee, Jasc/Corel Photo Album, Thumbs Plus, iMatch and the dozens of others do the same? Would all of them start coming bundled with web servers? Are we going to implement an import service for each of them in case someone changes their mind after making some changes?

"flickr and the competing service don't suffer any more or less in this three party data transfer."

Yes, they absolutely do. It's the difference between building and maintaining one piece of software built on a standard which multiple parties support and implementing dozens of interfaces to differing systems. And on top of the code (and tracking changes to other developers systems, dealing with their downtimes, etc.) every time you have an interface like that, the support burden gets larger since approximately 0% of users have any idea how this stuff works and don't know who to contact when things break.

"is it flickr's place to enforce this?"

Yes, absolutely. This is ... Flickr. There are servers in datacenters operated by Flickr, running code written by Flickr, which is used by people who are supported by Flickr staff. We listen very carefully to the people who use Flickr, and we have a much closer relationship to them than (as far as I know) any service of a similar size, but it's not a democracy. It's our place to make the decisions about the policies, business plans, feature set, design and all of the stuff that goes into Flickr, because the whole thing is our responsibility.

We also have to call the shots about the tradeoffs in what we do, given finite resources. The coding of the API and maintaining the machines to service it is actually a much smaller job than dealing with the issues it raises. And we're now still just scratching the surface when it comes to privacy, security and conveying to users a conceptual framework so they can understand what "authentication" is, and what the permissions levels mean, what risks they are taking, and who's responsibility it is should things go wrong (not that that matters much, since we already know who'll get blamed ;)

And since a tiny number of people have the need to try every new photo service that comes out (believe it or not, the overwhelming majority of people who use Flickr love it), supporting competitors through the API will probably always take a back seat to, say, new features, stability, infrastructure, security, redundancy, projects that make us money, optimizing design, making Flickr easier, and on and on and on.

[edit to fix a typo]
Originally posted 96 months ago. (permalink)
Stewart (a group admin) edited this topic 96 months ago.

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Thomas Hawk says:

Stewart: "The fact that there are no services on the web that work in the way you describe is a pretty good indicator of the feasibility."

Tabblo works the way striatic describes. And I think with a commercial API anyone else could build a similar lateral transfer tool. Check it out. My tabblo stream is here: app.tabblo.com/studio/photos/thomashawk/

All 5,000 plus of my photos complete with tags. It was so super easy to get my photos over there. But of course tabblo got a commercial API key. This is the central point. Let the competitors have the API and I suspect every other photo sharing site in the world would *love* to have a way to laterally move over a users photos and tags. But Stewart you already said that you'd be willing to share the commercial API with competitors and as far as I'm concerned problem solved. If I want to bitch about something now it should be that Picasa hasn't requested it and how lame is that. I also agree with Striatic that I don't think you need a api-api only model. Flickr should take the high road with regards to their users irrespective of how other companies behave. They should set an example as a company that puts users interests ahead of corporate interests.

And since a tiny number of people have the need to try every new photo service that comes out (believe it or not, the overwhelming majority of people who use Flickr love it),

You are making an assumption that people who try every photo sharing site don't love flickr. I love flickr very very very much. And yet I'm always interested in seeing what else is out there. I like to play with things that way, tinker.
96 months ago (permalink)

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Stewart is a group administrator Stewart says:

I'm making an implication, not an assumption ;)

But yes, in retrospect, I didn't really mean to imply that. I should have just said that we (mostly) have to prioritize development which benefits the largest number of Flickr users.

Re Tabblo: there are lots of other services that import Flickr photos so you can do something with them (like these). I haven't looked at Tabblo very much, but it seems more complementary than directly competitive (I wasn't involved in the decision to give them a commercial API key). You can use the photos you've uploaded here to do lots of different things - that's one of the main reasons we built the API. But when I said that no other services worked in way striatic describes, I meant import-export capabilities between direct competitors.
96 months ago (permalink)

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BLANKartist says:

Can I hijack my own thread back for a moment? While Picasa crashed a few times (nothing serious), it seems to be pretty good. It managed to find almost 1,800 duplicate photos and made light work of straightening out my collection. I'm assuming it's looking at the EXIF data because it found duplicates of the same photos (with different filenames), in the same folder!

Most excellent.

I'm also on my second batch of DVD backups which were long overdue. So all-in-all, I'm quite happy (mostly about DNG support).

Last but not least, where *does* Thomas find all his disposable time for groups? I can barely keep up reading. :)
Originally posted 96 months ago. (permalink)
BLANKartist edited this topic 96 months ago.

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antrod says:

Hey all,

Since we've been mentioned a few times in the thread, let me jump in here for a second.

At Tabblo, we have both Flickr integration and Picasa integration. In the case of the former, all we had to do was read a very well-written document and use a very easy to grok API and be off to the cool races. In the case of the latter, we had to spend a couple of days reverse-engineering a complicated desktop application/server-based protocol, then more time debugging it, and as of late, more time bringing it up to date for the 2.5 release of Picasa. So to anyone who thinks that Flickr is any less than open, I'd say: BS, go and try what we did if you want to see what less-than-open means.

Now, having said that, I'm also really glad the Flickr guys are so open and good for a much more important reason– you guys (the community). As I think I've said before, we've learned tons from the folks who brought over big libraries of photos (and metadata) and started making albums with them. We're not trying to "win you over" or "get you to leave flickr for tabblo--" quite the contrary, we set out to build a tool that would help people get more out of all the stuff they had already uploaded to the cloud. I think the whole genesis of this debate came out of the fact that there are people out there who just want to knock off flickr and when you do that, the next logical conclusion is that the whole thing has been turned into a zero-sum game where if site X wins, flickr loses and vice-versa.

For our part, we're about to implement "publish your tabblo to flickr" as a raster so that people in the flickr community can participate and comment on tabblos being made. I like this feature because I like the flickr discussion threads better than ours, and because I like hanging out on flickr.com. And I want to continue to be able to do things like this because of the trust that I've feel we've built up with Flickr, and more importantly with the Flickr community.

Maybe it has to do with the fact that our business model is not around ads/impressions/media, and so we don't feel threatened by people hopping from site to site. And maybe it's the fact that we're really trying to "stand on the shoulders of giants" with Tabblo instead of building a Flickr++. Either way, I really do want to take a moment to say "thank you and hang in there" to all of the Flickr folks following this debate.
96 months ago (permalink)

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Julie70 says:

last time I tryed they told me "it is not yet out" they'll tell me when... is it or not? or only to some?
96 months ago (permalink)

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julian- is a group administrator julian- says:

Slashdot appears to approve.
Originally posted 96 months ago. (permalink)
julian- (a group admin) edited this topic 96 months ago.

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azrasta says:

Thomas:I guess a lot's been said, I just wanted to hopefully add some things :).

First, regarding your fear about 'not owning' your tags (not being able to get them back), the flickr api actually works really well. It does let you retrieve not only your tags, but the tags other users have added to your photos (if you allow them to).

Another cool feature of the api, is that it lets you 'search' for related tags (say you send a call for the tag 'city', it may return 'town' as a related tag).

So, in that aspect, I guess there should be no fear that you can't retrieve your tags. I don't know if there's any specific application that lets you backup photos and tags in a clean way (or save them as xml or any other format), but the tools are out there. The api is easy to use (even more with the wrappers that exist for the different programming languagees), and some basic functionality could be achieved spending a few hours playing with the api (that is, if you know some programming).

I guess now what you need, is someone with enough time to create a little app for just that (although probably there's one out there already).


About google not liking flickr :P
Well, this is what i get from my google analytics stats for my blog:
21% came from google.com
7.3% from, images.google.com
7.4% from, yahoo

So, I was getting a lot of traffic from google (almost one third), even when it almost has no text nor optimization for search engines (now, it could also be because of the nature of the blog ;) ). But, it's important to say that it was hosted on blogger (which is google's blog service), so that may be an important factor. I'll still have to see what happens now that I moved to my own domain with a wordpress installation (too soon to tell, but still, no traffic from any search engines).

Finally, in my opinion, I think people tend to forget that flickr is a business. They offer a great service and a great community, but they are also here to make money. So, they should do everything possible to keep their users happy (and from my point of view they do an excelent job there), but when it comes to competitors, I think flickr should and probably will do what benefits them the most. So, I'd agree that if a competitor would use the API for their own advantage, it's up to flickr whether to let them use it or not. Actually, just as a very lame example, my blog is still there because flickr 'lets' me maintain it. It was blocked by flickr when I displayed ads there, and their reason was that making money from ads (which i wasn't making any anyway) from content provided and hosted by flickr just was not something they wanted to support. I absolutely agree with that
96 months ago (permalink)

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azrasta says:

Stewart:The fact that there are no services on the web that work in the way you describe is a pretty good indicator of the feasibility.[...]That's why you export your blog from one service and import it to another.

I was thinking about an example, the best I could think of is: you can use wordpress to import your entire blog from blogger (I guess you can do it from other blogging providers, I just don't know), and they do that using the API provided by blogger. You could say wordpress is a direct competitor of blogger (which is google's blog service), though of course, it is a very outdated (and free) service, so probably google doesn't care anyway.
96 months ago (permalink)

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bigmick says:

Antrod said:
"Now, having said that, I'm also really glad the Flickr guys are so open and good for a much more important reason– you guys (the community)."

Yep, I'm with that. We're building Zapr and would only hope that we can give Flickr an API fun enough that they want to play with it for hours.

A big question, is whether being open is just a nice touchy-feely thing that some developers like to think is important, or whether it really matters to the mass of customers out there. That may have been answered by the millions of Flickr fans and I certainly hope it's the latter.

We'll get back to work so we can be open too!
96 months ago (permalink)

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the family cat says:

Have Picasa on my desktop but its like Paint Shop or GWP it only reads your own drive.You can actually download it in less than a minute.
However its features for making movies will zap your drive if you're not careful-this needs looking at.
I know nothing about this other stuff but Yahoo's E Groups were the first photo sharing site from the late 90s.However they are unsafe because they're free
96 months ago (permalink)

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Ottoman42 says:

I think that what azrata said about Flickr being a company is a good point. Its great that we all want openness and what happens if Flickr dies? But the fact is that they want to make money. Opening the API might not help do that. But by making the other sites open as well and allowing Flickr to access the other sites then they increase content without doing much that hasn't been done already. In fact the work has to be done by their competitors. So I guess what I'm trying to say is yeah for openness but lets not forget that Flickr has every right to limit their API how they see fit.
96 months ago (permalink)

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♥moorz84♥ says:

this is to "the family cat" I also have picaso and agree that it works the same as you have indicated.....EVERYONE NEEDS TO LOOK AT
"PREFERENCES" when downloading picaso...alos i agree not to use the "movie" feature, it does zap your drive....hope this helps, mary
96 months ago (permalink)

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earth2marsh says:

@Stewart, glad you had a change of heart about API keys for competitors.

The future is open--may the best ideas win.
96 months ago (permalink)

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Steve Rhodes says:


Since textamerica is going to delete all their free accounts very soon, it would be really helpfull to be able to import our photos into flickr. This would be a case where it would be nice (at least to textamerica's users).

You could talk to shawn who worked at textamerica until recently to get all the details.

www.flickr.com/photos/shawnblog/


"And here's the thing: back when we first started, we got asked to develop tools to bring in people's photos in from other sites (notably Buzznet, which started before us, was larger, and was popular for cameraphone users). We actually developed a tool to do that, but never released it. Why? Because it just seemed ... lame, and mean, and competitive in a bad way, at least if we did it ourselves. (If the market develops a solution on its own,again, no problem.)"
96 months ago (permalink)

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quixote9 says:

Re: API keys for direct competitors:

I'm impressed. I've been so disgusted by Yahoo's role in Chinese repression and internet censorship, that I'd planned on switching away from Flickr at the first sign of a viable alternative. (I've long wondered why Google didn't use Picasa that way.) Flickr is the only way I use Yahoo, because it's just too damn good. And now that you're doing the right thing for your users, I don't really want to switch away anymore. Big quandary. Keep up the great work!
96 months ago (permalink)

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Neil Zone says:

A couple of things I prefer about the new Google product having tried it -

* The slideshows... they use much more of the screen yet they are still very quick to load.

* Moving along between photos... I think it has something to do with prefetching the photos, however it really makes page load times very short, with photos loading near instantly...

* Photo display size - this is also nicer, with the image loading quickly and taking up more of the available screen space.


Overall I'll definately be sticking with Flickr for a while - the storage on the Google one isn't so great for the price, and obviously there's the great community aspects of Flickr too. Also I've just got a mac, and Picasa isn't yet available for them yet.

Google may be better for quick sharing with anyone, but Flickr is where it's at for everything else!
96 months ago (permalink)

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Thomas Hawk says:

"Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains. One thinks himself the master of others, and still remains a greater slave than they. How did this change come about? I do not know. What can make it legitimate? That question I think I can answer." Jean Jacques Rousseau. The Social Contract.

A lot of charged language has been flying around over the past four days or so with regards to Flickr and what rights their users ought or ought not to have with regards to their content. It started off with a thread in Flickr Central when Google launched their new Picasa photo sharing app and has escalated from there to Digg, TechCrunch and now Slashdot.

As I've been involved in the recent debate since it started I wanted to offer up my thoughts on the matter at hand. It's important to note that yesterday I joined Zooomr, a direct competitor to Flickr. I've kept quiet on the posts over the weekend because I wanted to announce that before offering up anything more on the subject than I already have.

As one of Flickr's heaviest users I feel that I have a decent understanding of the situation and problem at present.

A number of months back Anil Dash wrote a post called "The Interesting Economy." In this post Anil posed the most basic question of all from a Flickr user's perspective, "what's in it for me?"

From Anil: "But interestingness in Flickr doesn't pay. At least not yet. Non-pro users are seeing ads around my photos, but Yahoo's not sharing the wealth with me, even though I've created a draw. Flickr's plenty open, they're doing the right thing by any measure of the web as we saw it a year ago, or two years ago. Today, though, openness around value exchange is as important as openness around data exchange."

Caterina Fake responded to Anil with the following: "Everyone needs to get paid, businesses need to thrive. I don't begrudge blogs like Anil's their AdSense links, or Flickr displaying ads on free accounts (I may have a bias there). But monetization strategy or no, the culture of generosity is the very backbone of the internet. It is why I have always loved it."

At the time, and still today, I agree with Caterina Fake. I have always felt that I've gotten much more out of Flickr than money could ever provide and thus I've felt it more than a fair deal. I don't need to be paid by Flickr. I enjoy the generosity that Caterina speaks of and love the share and share alike spirt of Flickr. And over the past year I've spent hours and hours and hours working away at my flickrstream. Uploading new photos every day, meticulously documenting my images with detailed tags, building friends and making contacts, enjoying and sharing with everyone I meet, and participating actively in many different groups and conversations on the site. But lately I've been having some second thoughts.

The central issue around the recent debate is not whether or not you can get your photographs out of Flickr. Slashdot got this really wrong when they wrote, "yet Flickr's API only allows uploading, not exporting." There are several tools that have already been developed to allow exporting out of Flickr. Downloadr and Slickr come to mind immediately.

You absolutely can get your photographs out of Flickr your photos are not locked up. Flickr is not the roach motel that others have been making it out to be.

What is at issue is not your photos, but the metadata associated with your photos. At present Flickr does not keep the tags that you use to name and organize your photos in the photo files themselves. Rather these tags are part of a larger Flickr database that Flickr associates with your images. And this is the real issue to focus on. How can you as a user, and should you as a user, be able to easily get all of your photos and the metadata associated with them out of flickr and on to a competitive platform.

Recently Zooomr requested a Commercial API from Flickr. This request, in part, was based on a desire to create an easy way for users to migrate their photos and metadata over to Zooomr should they want to try/use the Zooomr service. Zooomr was denied this request by Flickr. Other sites, like Tabblo, who is perhaps viewed as less of a direct competitor to Flickr than Zooomr have been given API keys and have in fact used them to create tools that easily allow a user the ability to transfer their photos and metadata over to their service. I personally used the tabblo service and tool to transfer all my flickr photos and metadata there and you can check out how complete a transfer it was at my tabblo page here.

I think that it was a mistake to deny Zooomr this request. I think it was a mistake because at the foundation of this great thing that we call Web 2.0 I believe there exists a social contract between companies and their users that trumps business interests. Perhaps I'm being naive here but I firmly believe that the user's needs must always come first for any Web 2.0 company. As businesses profit from the free labor, goodwill and generosity that Caterina Fake writes of, I believe that while they may not be owed actual compensation, that they are owed every effort to protect their rights, privileges and control over that which they create and contribute.

It is very very cool how easy it was to transfer my entire flickrstream and all of the associated metadata easily and seamlessly over to tabblo. It should be that easy for any other site I choose to use as well. And while it should not be incumbent on Flickr to build the tools to do this, they should make their API available to other companies who would like to build these import tools nonetheless. They should do this because it's the right thing to do from their side of the user generated contract.

And I think Flickr feels this way too. In fact it should be noted that after denying Zooomr's original request, Flickr's Stewart Butterfield has expressed that he has had a change of heart with regards to allowing competitors access to Flickr commercial API keys and will most likely grant these requests if a competitor also agrees to allow Flickr access to their open API. I applaud this effort but in fact still think it needs to go a tad further. I do think that flickr should open up their API for building import/export tools for competitors irrespective of the status of their API. Again, I may be living in a utopia here, but I do believe that in the end doing the right thing always wins out. And if other sites want to stay closed while Flickr stays open then I think in the end users will respect Flickr all the more for this and it will create a stronger bond between them and their users. Zooomr by the way is committed to an open API and Kris is working on the finishing touches on Zooomr's as I write this.

One final thing. I think that in this entire debate Flickr has at times been portrayed as the bad guy here. This could not be further from the truth. In fact, Flickr has probably done more for user's rights and ability to control their content then just about any Web 2.0 company that exists today. They have popularized the Creative Commons license. They have routinely listened to and actively engaged their users. They have created broad tools to allow users to offer varying degrees of access, privacy and control over their images. They have carefully cultivated an environment of mutual respect between they and their users and have constantly fought for the rights of these users. They will likely even change their position with regards to granting competitors Commercial API keys. They have been about as fine an example of good stewardship in the user generated contract as exists today. In all of this I think it's unfair for anyone to suggest otherwise.

[edited to remove direct links to flickr and zooomr that I had in my original blog post]
Originally posted 95 months ago. (permalink)
Thomas Hawk edited this topic 95 months ago.

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julian- is a group administrator julian- says:

/me creates an award for the longest ever 'wrap up' post and throws it at Thomas.
95 months ago (permalink)

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Thomas Hawk says:

Thanks for the award Julian. I hear I'm known to be wordy at times.
95 months ago (permalink)

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Eric is a group administrator Eric says:

Hawk: Flickr is not the roach motel that others have been making it out to be.

You mean others like your new 18 year old boss? www.techcrunch.com/2006/06/16/why-is-flickr-afraid-of-zoo...
95 months ago (permalink)

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Thomas Hawk says:

Eric. Flickr is definitely not a "roach motel" and I think Kris was speaking more broadly and in general about the need for a free flow of data between applications rather than calling flickr a name. I will also speak with him more specifically about that term though as I know it was used in an article on ZDNet a while back and it is inappropriate to in any way characterize flickr as such. I can't think of a photosharing company that has been more user centered an open than flickr. Flickr has done more for their users in terms of giving them control over their data than virtually any company I know of. I love flickr. very very much. I can't imagine ever not being a part of flickr.

Of course Kris and I are certain to have different opinions about things too but I think bottom line is we both think user data ought to be completely portable.

But irrespecitive of the fact that I love flickr I think that Web 2.0 companies should in fact allow the infrastructure to allow users to easily move, control and migrate their data. I suspect that you feel the same way. And I also feel that it's important that this conversation take place and happen respectfully and maturely.

A while back I wanted to try NewGator instead of bloglines. In the world of RSS now it is pretty common for companies to build import tools for RSS feeds from other readers. In fact I don't know a single RSS reader that doesn't have an import tool. Selfishly each of these companies wants to make it as easy as possible for someone to switch to their service. Of course exporting OPML files is far easier than huge image libraries complete with massive amounts of metadata.

But through using Flickr's API virtually any company can create as easy an import tool as tabblo has created. And flickr should allow this and I'm pretty sure will allow this at least to companies who also maintain open and shared APIs per Stewart's previous remarks on the matter which he also credited you with in part. This is a super positive thing. All companies should be open that way and thrive and compete based on their features, customer service, development, cost, etc. alone. The best companies truly will end up on top and I do believe that the companies that win will be the most open of them all.

As our lives increasingly are contained in various online properties it is important that these communities are fluid and allow us an opportunity if we want to move our stuff around. Fundamentally this stuff (and not just the photos but the metadata associated with them) belongs to users first and foremost.

I feel that some of the comments on techcrunch, digg, and slashdot inappropriately portrayed flickr in a negative light when I truly believe flickr is about doing the right thing for the user at all times. Irrespecitve of what Kris or anyone else might write or say by the way.
95 months ago (permalink)

ShelleyPowers [deleted] says:

Thomas, I've followed this with interest out in the weblogs. Finally had to get a new Flickr account (I had deleted my old) just so I can comment.

(Well, and I might post a few pics again...)

Your boss is not very knowledgable about data interchange. About the worst thing to contemplate is direct service to service interchange of data through an open API.

Stewart is right: what is needed is a common export/import format. With this, a person could export their data, and then import into another tool, ensuring that only the data they want to go to the new service is being transmitted.

It would be two days work to create a tool to download a person's data, and embed the metadata into their images (PNG or JPEG). And any photo service should be able to read this and extract out the metadata.

Regardless, one could use Atom or RSS for the metadata for an interim solution.

Piece of cake to do. Didn't need to go through all this high profile BS. As for the burden of exporting this data -- that's silly. It hardly takes any space for 99% of Flickr users to export their photos and metadata to their personal computers. I'm assuming that power users could afford the space and time.

As for giving companies commercial API access, If Zooomer uses the API and has a person's account information, they can also get that person's contacts, and then how long before we see emails flying: Hi! Such and such is now a client at Zooomer. Wouldn't you like to be one, too?

Then there are other companies that want to use Flickr as a central store. Oh, but they don't want to pay. They just want to have access to the API, totally disregarding that every call on the API takes resources and bandwidth.

Oh, but you say, data wants to be free.

Bull. Data wants to be secure. I suggest those who think otherwise, paint flowers on their navels and go live in a hut in the hills and practice free, and unprotected, sex.

I hope that Flickr does NOT give an API key to Zooomr. I think it will be a bad mistake. But, has to be a decision for the Flickr group to make. I just hope Flickr's, and the client's, trust doesn't backfire on them.

The question back then is: if Kris is a programming wiz, why can't he take my and other's suggestions and create a tool for clients to use? And Zooomr's own API does....what was that again?
95 months ago (permalink)

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Thomas Hawk says:

Shelly,

Bottom line is I cannot get my tags out of Flickr today period. The *only* place I've seen where they can be transferred is tabblo. And it is *super* easy to transfer them to tabblo. Many, many companies have the Flickr API and commercial APIs. Any one of these companies could abuse the API and I'd assume that if they did that that it would be revoked.

On the phone to me Stewart mentioned that maybe there might be a way to do it buy purchasing DVDs (and this is just that there *might* be a way). I did not hear any other way shared with me to do this at the user level. And buying DVDs is ridiculous. I have over 5,000 high res images. The cost associated this, inconvenience, etc. would be astronomical. Compare this to the ease of experience with importing into tabblo and there is no comparison.

"It would be two days work to create a tool to download a person's data, and embed the metadata into their images"

Great. I welcome it being built, and I'll be the first person to test it out and review it when it's here. But I still doubt it will be as seamless as the experience is with tabblo and I still would assume someone would need a flickr API to builid even this tool. Kris was denied a flickr api and so he can't build it. This is a moot point though because this decision per Stewart is likely to be reversed.

Bull. Data wants to be secure. I suggest those who think otherwise, paint flowers on their navels and go live in a hut in the hills and practice free, and unprotected, sex.

I'd hardly associate a user wanting access to their own data with unprotected sex. It may not matter to you Shelly that you can't get your data out of flickr. You youself said that you didn't have much data here. But what if your blog posts were tied to your current blog platform? What if you could export your blog posts but none of the comments that readers had made? I suspect you might feel differently then. I suspect that you might feel that the data on your blog belongs to you much more than to the platform provider that you choose to use.

"Piece of cake to do. Didn't need to go through all this high profile BS. As for the burden of exporting this data -- that's silly. It hardly takes any space for 99% of Flickr users to export their photos and metadata to their personal computers."

This is *not* a piece of cake to do. There is no way to do this at flickr today which is part of the point.

I honestly do not understand the hostility at allowing users the capability of seamlessly moving their data to and from whatever service that they would like. To me this argument is about user choice and the obligations that Web 2.0 companies have to work together to make things as easy as possible for the user with whom I believe there ought to exist a social contract of sorts.

But all of this is a moot point and we are beating this conversation to death. Something for which I'm definitely known. Stewart already said he'd give Zooomr the API once Zooomr published and shared there own which Kris is in the process of doing. I just don't really understand the hostility for allowing competing companies the ability to trust each other and share these types of tools in an effort to provide users the easiest way possible to move their media around the web. This to me is what Web 2.0 is and should be about. And it shouldn't need to be something that someone has to defend.
95 months ago (permalink)

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Nico.... says:

I know this is petty but:

And it is *super* easy to transfer them to tabblo

Why on Earth would you want to? Having followed your links I can't see anything to attract me at all. It looks horrid and it was *super* slow too.
95 months ago (permalink)

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Thomas Hawk says:

Why on Earth would you want to? Having followed your links I can't see anything to attract me at all. It looks horrid and it was *super* slow too.

That's not the point, the point is that you can. Interportability of user data ought to be that easy to do anywhere.

But, since you bring up tabblo, I do think that they have some innovative ways to present, cutomize and arrange sets and do storytelling that flickr does not. I agree with you that they lack anything super compelling for me too right now, but I'm sure they will do more with the storytelling stuff over time. I've got a few tabblos up there right now which I think are kind of cool. I'd spend more time making more tabblos if I had more time.

But other services that are not tabblo and that do not have flickr API keys I'd still like to get all of my images/metadata too. Zooomr, because I'm working there now. Picasa, because they index very highly with Google. And even WebShots, where believe it or not with the limited library I uploaded there a long long time ago and zero maintenance I still get thousands of views each week. At present I can't transfer my flickr images and tags to any of these sites.

...To beat the dead horse further.
95 months ago (permalink)

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Stewart is a group administrator Stewart says:

Thomas, there's something you're not getting and if you actually care about this stuff, you should pay attention and think about it. If it doesn't make sense to you or you don't believe me, go talk to anyone with any real length of experience in the software business:

**The only path to real data portability is through open standards**. If we have to rely on different vendors implementing each others API, it just won't happen. Yes, you might get a handful of sites doing one-off interop with each other, but *most* users won't have a choice because getting from their A to their B won't be implemented.

Neither Microsoft nor Apple are going to build Flickr importers into their OSes. Right there, 90%+ of users are stuck. And the various desktop photo organization programs are not going to come bundled with web servers so the web-based services can built import tools from them (and, even in the bizarre parallel universe where they did, we wouldn't spend time building the import tools from them).

When there is a standard, each vendor can implement it one time and then never has to do any more work (excepting updates to the standard, of course). And everything "just works". Tags and everything else are portable. ITPC (+XMP or not) is pretty close -- it may even be good enough as is (though it would be better with a few extensions, the creation of which we'd be happy to participate in).

Not a single person has disgreed with you on the principle that data should be portable. You don't need to defend that. The method you're proposing is one that simply does not and will not ever work broadly. It is not the path to the most choice. And it also comes with a lot of subtle and complicated issues (which we're now working through).

And, for the last time, the "your data belongs to you" characterization is a canard. Of course it does. We support that probably more than *any* *other* *company* around today. Your suggestions to the contrary are insulting and surreal.

Do you have ANY evidence for it? What about the huge amounts of evidence to the contrary? The idea that we claim any ownership at all of people's photos or data is completely beyond the pale.

Aside from core operations, we probably spend a 1/3 of our time dealing with people who think "public" on flickr means "public domain" and use photos at will or try to monetize the search capability or treat flickr as a free stock site.

On top of that, we handle literallly *millions* of api calls per day and serve *100s* of *millions* of photos per day to sites outside the flickr.com domain, almost all of it so people can use their photos where they want, when they want.

We've written huge amounts of code at both the infrastructe level and the feature level to both promote users' (and data) freedom while protecting their rights, and it's still on-going.

An example: We were acquired a year ago and there's no Flickr integration in Y!'s image search. Why not? Easy win, right? Because we wanted to build a way for users to opt of API-based searches before doing so. And we wanted to do that because a lot of users don't want their photos in image search, but do want them showing up on Flickr.com. And that meant some fairly large changes to the way the search system worked, which we just completed.

I could easily write 50,000 words in one sitting about all the decisions we've made and discussions we've had to protect users' rights and empower their freedom, almost none of which even show up to casual observers.

These aren't things we do to score PR points, but things we do because of fundamental convictions. And though most users don't notice most of these issues, we have made a lot of people happy.

I'm off your blog and this is the last time I'll engage with you on these topics here too. Again, if you really care about this stuff, think it through.

(P.s., why is the "bottom line is that you cannot get your tags out of Flickr today period" and not "bottom line is that you cannot get your tags out of Zooomr today period" or "bottom line is that you annot get your tags out of PicasaWeb today period". Wtf?)
95 months ago (permalink)

ShelleyPowers [deleted] says:

Thomas: Many, many companies have the commerial APIs? I'm aware of a few associated with the marketing here at the site for printing and other vanity press stuff, but I didn't know that Flickr was tossing the API out, willy,nilly to any company without having an agreement in place. What companies?

I'm assuming for the companies that they entered an arrangement, and probably worked out restrictions as to what the company could do with the data, and what part of the data they could retrieve. Not to mention what they could or could not communicate to the Flickr folk.

I'm also assuming the commercial agreements were for complementary services.

This is a far cry from giving a blank go ahead to Zooomr to use the API however it wants, with no agreement in place. I imagine that even if Flickr gives the go ahead, Zooomr is going to have to agree to some pretty strong restrictions, or the client data is as risk for being compromised.

Tabblo strikes me as a complementary service, not a competitive one. In addition, it also strikes me that they probably discussed a contract with Flickr, and probably entered into an agreement on the extent of data they can or cannot access -- and what they can do with that data.

Flickr, first and foremost, has a responsibility to ensure the safety of the data people trust to the system. This means if the company enters an agreement with another company to allow direct transfer, it's responsibility doesn't end. If tabblo were to abuse the data, the 'blame' would have to also reside on Flickr for allowing this access.

Now, if a person uses a home grown application to get their own photos and data, that's up to them. They're responsible for their own actions, because they own the data.

It's either/or: You can't grant an organization open and unregulated access to the data, because you can't ensure that this privlege won't be abused. You can grant open access to the user, because they have to be responsible for their decisions--it is their data.

"I'd hardly associate a user wanting access to their own data with unprotected sex. It may not matter to you Shelly that you can't get your data out of flickr. You youself said that you didn't have much data here. But what if your blog posts were tied to your current blog platform? What if you could export your blog posts but none of the comments that readers had made? I suspect you might feel differently then. I suspect that you might feel that the data on your blog belongs to you much more than to the platform provider that you choose to use."

Thomas, I've been weblogging since about 2000, and have used almost every weblogging tool there is. I've lost posts and comments both. I once was in a free ManilaSite, that's how long I've been weblogging. Oh, and I lost these posts and comments. But then, it was free and I wasn't that serious about weblogging at the time.

In most cases, the tool provided a way for me to export the posts and comments. I had to then in turn import them into other tools. I've helped hundreds of people do this effort. It works.

Now, I only use centralized services if I can export the data I want to keep; preferably into a format that other tools can import.

But would I give one service my open connection to my account at another service? Only if I knew there was no vulnerable data they would have access to, and only if I were burning my bridges and not planning on coming back. The very fact that there are contacts with my Flickr account would make me extremely wary. I would most likely delete the contacts, first -- to protect them.

Is this the type of connection you want from Zooomr to Flickr? A one way road?

As for DVD, I don't know what you and Stewart discussed over the phone. I am referencing the communication that's out in the open. I would think that the phone conversation between you both would be confidential to you both.

"I honestly do not understand the hostility at allowing users the capability of seamlessly moving their data to and from whatever service that they would like. To me this argument is about user choice and the obligations that Web 2.0 companies have to work together to make things as easy as possible for the user with whom I believe there ought to exist a social contract of sorts."

Because much of the time, the users don't necessarily understand the dangers of such openness. If you were to tell any Flickr account holder that Zooomr would have access to their contact list and information as photo and metadata, how many would be as comfortable with this type of direct access?

No one who has had an Orkut or LinkedIn account would be to ready to sign up, that's for sure.

"To me this argument is about user choice and the obligations that Web 2.0 companies have to work together to make things as easy as possible for the user with whom I believe there ought to exist a social contract of sorts."

Where did you hear this one? I would say that Web 2.0 companies first and foremost have an obligation not to fail. Where's the rulebook that said companies have to make it easier for their competitors?

"But all of this is a moot point and we are beating this conversation to death. Something for which I'm definitely known. Stewart already said he'd give Zooomr the API once Zooomr published and shared there own which Kris is in the process of doing."

personally, after the last week, I think this is a mistake. But hey, luckily, I don't have to worry about the consequences.

" I just don't really understand the hostility for allowing competing companies the ability to trust each other and share these types of tools in an effort to provide users the easiest way possible to move their media around the web. This to me is what Web 2.0 is and should be about. And it shouldn't need to be something that someone has to defend."

Ultimately, any service has as first priority the protection of that service's data. Then, and only once this responsibilitiy is met, it provides facilities for the user to get their data in a format that meets some industrial standard (for whatever industry, defacto or otherwise).

As for direct company to company transfer: there is no 'trust' in business. It is not in the user's best interest to have it so. If Flickr gives another company access to my data on Flickr, I want as many legal restrictions on this access as possible. I want that data to squeek as it's reluctantly pulled out. I want the data exchanges to be scrutinized, and hovered over.

I don't want Flickr to give the data to any person who comes along who gets some A lister weblogger to harrass and haranque--because how will I know what the company will do with access to my data once I give them my precious username and password?

That's why I'm pushing back on this. Many of the people who use this service and might try Zooomr may not be fully aware of how vulnerable their data is. I know, though, and my responsibility is to make these folk aware of this vulnerability. It is the responsibility of any tech.

It may not be the Web 2.0 way, but I don't care. Then if folk want to shoot themselves, fine -- but I hope they don't take their contacts with them.

I would also hate to see Flickr's integrity harmed, just because an A Lister is irresponsible in his reporting, and others wave "Web 2.0" as if its a magic wand to Keep Away Bad People.
Originally posted 95 months ago. (permalink)
ShelleyPowers edited this topic 95 months ago.

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Thomas Hawk says:

Stewart, first off, I really do appreciate your taking the time to discuss this. I've said this before about your accesibility and it is a really great thing. You obviously are passionate and care about this and have thought it through greatly. I'm sure with access to much better information than I.

And I do care about this stuff. A lot. And I appreciate your taking the time to educate me.

"**The only path to real data portability is through open standards**."

Ok, I think what you are saying here is that some kind of a tool needs to be created which will tie in the metadata associated with a user's images at flickr to the actual image file itself and then allow an easy and seamless way to download. And I think what you are saying is that although this is not here today, Flickr is committed to developing some kind of standard with regards to this and in the meantime things like the import/export functionality via tabblo are bandaid approaches and not the real deal.

Is this something that flickr should build or are you saying that someone else should build it? And wouldn't someone need the api in order to build this? I take it that it's not here today because as of today I can't get my tags out of flickr (nor can I get them out of zooomr, or picasa or other places, mine just happen to be at flickr at present).

Zooomr, Picasa, etc. should all do everything they can too to provide the user the ability to transfer their data from service to service. At least in the case of Zooomr, I know that this is the plan.

And, for the last time, the "your data belongs to you" characterization is a canard. Of course it does. We support that probably more than *any* *other* *company* around today. Your suggestions to the contrary are insulting and surreal.

Stewart, there is no need to defend this. I absolutely know how flickr feels about this. As I've mentioned in this entire debate and agree with you, Flickr has been a *huge* defender, proponent and suporter of users and their data. The entire site is built around users feeling good and comfortable with keeping their stuff here. Flickr bends over backwards to ensure that users are comfortable and in fact you push and promote things like Creative Commons licensing even when many of your users have no idea that you are looking out for them.

It sounds like it's just a technical blip more than anything that tags can't easily be retrieved at the moment and I'm confident that in the weeks ahead we will see a solution to this in some capicity some where in some way.

The fact that my tags feel trapped to me I fully understand is not part of some kind of intentional act on flickr's part to somehow hold flickr users captive. Flickr doesn't need to do this. People *love* flickr. I love flickr. Flickr would never pursue any type of path to lock people in. Flickr is about openess. Truly. I fully get this and believe this.

I think in my own mind I just associated the ease at which I could export to tabblo and wished that I had that functionality with other sites whether as a temporary bandaid approach or not. It felt to me that by denyting others access to the same API that tabblo had access to that it was preventing me from doing so elsewhere. AND EVEN this has been addressed! You suggested that flickr would in fact even there go the extra mile to support these kinds of tools should a competitor also do this.

Please do not think that I in any way feel bad about flickr as a company.

"We were acquired a year ago and there's no Flickr integration in Y!'s image search. Why not? Easy win, right? Because we wanted to build a way for users to opt of API-based searches before doing so. And we wanted to do that because a lot of users don't want their photos in image search, but do want them showing up on Flickr.com. And that meant some fairly large changes to the way the search system worked, which we just completed."

I appreciate your sharing this as well. Not that it's entirely relevent to the exact debate at hand but it certainly does show the care and concern that you take when considering what's best for your users. For what it's worth I think integrating images into Yahoo Image Search for those who don't object is a *huge* feature and am really excited to hear that you guys are doing this and am very much looking forward to seeing this as it rolls out.

The method you're proposing is one that simply does not and will not ever work broadly. It is not the path to the most choice. And it also comes with a lot of subtle and complicated issues (which we're now working through).

You are probably right here and although an api-api exchange may be a bandaid in the short term, I agree that if this is not the best approach that a longer term solution should be figured out. I'm still not sure exactly how this will/is going to happen but look forward to seeing companies adopt these kinds of standards to the best end use of portability for the user.

Again, I appreciate your willingness to discuss this publicly, as always your accesibility, and your patience with me in trying to get this all figured out in my own mind. And please know that I totally think Flickr is on the side of the user. Have always thought this. And can't imagine Flickr ever doing anything to change my opinion about this. I honestly now have a far better understanding of how all of this might/should/will eventually work and feel pretty good about it actually.
95 months ago (permalink)

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Thomas Hawk says:

"If Flickr gives another company access to my data on Flickr, I want as many legal restrictions on this access as possible. I want that data to squeek as it's reluctantly pulled out. I want the data exchanges to be scrutinized, and hovered over."

Shelley, you obviously do not understand how the api works at flickr. Flickr has given api keys to hundreds if not thousands of individuals and companies. Central to the api is that a user must choose to authenticate with the provider at flickr before data transfer takes place. The user must essentially approve the access at their level prior to data becoming insecure, etc. I would assume that this would still be the case for Zooomr or anyone else who was granted an API in the future. I do not believe that giving someone an API key gives them the keys to all of flickr and the ability to do whatever they want with this data willy nilly. I believe that it is authorized on a user by user basis.
95 months ago (permalink)

ShelleyPowers [deleted] says:

Thomas:

flickr.contacts.getList

flickr.people.findByUsername

flickr.people.getInfo

==

"Hey! Your (friend/contact) Thomas has moved to Zooomr. We wanted to give you this one time offer to try out this service. All you have to do is..."

This is in addition to given ability to modify or change account for the person so authenticated.
Originally posted 95 months ago. (permalink)
ShelleyPowers edited this topic 95 months ago.

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Thomas Hawk says:

Hey! Your (friend/contact) Thomas is using (any of thousands of places that already have and are using the flickr api today). We wanted to give you this one time offer to try out this service. All you have to do is..."

I don't get the difference. Certainly API abuse could take place with any one of the thousands of people that Flickr has handed the API out to.

I'd assume that as spam is against the Flickr TOU that anyone doing this would be terminated and have their API key revoked. I would also assume that part of agreeing to the API key would be that you would not spam flickr users. A legal agreement enforceable in court I'd assume.

And if someone really wanted to do this they could anyway. Your contacts are public info. The API would just make it easier. Some flickr users already get spam or things that feel like spam, but you are right and Flickr should take spam seriously if a real threat existed.

Zooomr would not spam flickr users, nor would I'm sure any other significant photosharing service.
Originally posted 95 months ago. (permalink)
Thomas Hawk edited this topic 95 months ago.

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Lalitree says:

I cannot get my tags out of Flickr today period. The *only* place I've seen where they can be transferred is tabblo. And it is *super* easy to transfer them to tabblo.

So can you get them out of tabblo?
95 months ago (permalink)

ShelleyPowers [deleted] says:

Thomas, I don't work at Flickr and I'm not going to spend the next two weeks fighting a fight for the company. All the company really had to say to you is, No, we're not going to do it, and that would be end of story.

I got involved because a) I knew there were ways for the client to get their data because I've used them and I've coded to the API myself to get data andI wanted to correct deliberate misinformation; b) because I'm very interested in photo metadata formats.

I originally wrote in TechCrunch that I agreed with Stewart that a better approach is to come up with an industry standard way of exchanging data. I personally believe that the safest route is exporting the data and then importing because you have control of the experience.

You say this would be a horrid experience for the users. I reply that most likely it wouldn't be and most users wouldn't care anyway. I think you're probably trying to make it very easy so you can encourage people to 'play' with Zooomr. This strikes me, then, that the export is helping Zooomr more than the people.

Regardless, give people the ability to export the data into a standard format and Zooomr could import this. It would take just one application running on behalf of the user (whereby a non-commercial API key would work, since it's a non-commercial application). Running this could be followed by running an application that imports to Zooomr. The great thing about it is that if other photo sites supported the same export format, the same Zooomr import would work with them, and so on.

In fact, people could export from Zooomr into Flickr using the same format.

Direct API access, as has been written, could mean any number of things. If Zooomr was cracked and you stored user accounts and passwords, the crackers could not only harm your site, they could harm the flickr sites. If you decide to 'refresh' photos from Flickr every day, and you have 10,000 or so Flickr folks, I would say all the users will suffer from the strain on the server.

But you know, all Flickr would have to say to you is no.

PS And another reason I was interested is because Web 2.0 is becoming synonymous with "Give me my way or I'll unleash the hordes on you."
Originally posted 95 months ago. (permalink)
ShelleyPowers edited this topic 95 months ago.

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Thomas Hawk says:

"It would take just one application running on behalf of the user (whereby a non-commercial API key would work, since it's a non-commercial application)"

And yet no such tool that you describe exists today and Zooomr as a commercial entity would be precluded from building one.
95 months ago (permalink)

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