The Problem Flickr Never Solved

Flickr never gave me a way to see the most relevant stuff of my friends, only the most recent. In today’s attention limited world, that wasn’t enough.

I use instagram lots now to take little snippets. They flow nicely into my Facebook or Twitter streams. I rarely use Flickr apart from for more “curated” photos. My usage of flickr is really dying off. And I think I know why

Flickr, has never provided a way to see the most relevant content from my contacts. I can see the top five, or a single photo on the friends page. That doesn’t provide me with completeness, so I used a friends API call to give me an RSS feed of all photos.

Services like Facebook have long treated completeness as being an impossible goal, so they prioritise what they show you. Granted this leads to some of my friends bitching about that prioritisation but they are starting from the pragmatic position that “You will never see everything because there is too much”.

I don’t think flickr ever really solved that problem. I get that it’s much harder than atomic things, because in many case a clump of eight photos is relevant, rather than any one of those, but I don’t have a meaningful way to dip into the stream and get the most interesting stuff, merely the most recent stuff.

It’s a problem that every online service needs to solve. If the user can’t see everything, how can we give them a chunk of relevant stuff.

(and uploading with instagram is “frictionless” to use the latest jargon, compared to the clunky flickr app)

One thought on “The Problem Flickr Never Solved”

  1. I’ve come to the conclusion, having played with this problem for a bit, that flickr are almost _opposed_ to giving you a contacts’ photo stream. You can’t get it in the web interface, or the mobile app, or even through the API. ( there’s an API call that _almost_ does the right thing, but it’s limited to 5 photos per contact. )

    I suspect this is because a photostream that included everything would be swamped when I upload 300 photos of my recent holiday, but a photostream that doesn’t include everything isn’t really what you want. I think the twin purposes of “photo archive and even documentation” and “stream of interesting things” are at odds here.

Comments are closed.