Flickr (and other photo sharing applications such as Facebook) are very interesting examples of web 2.0 interaction. Pictures are quite emotive, interesting and personal, but can be equally creative, informative, descriptive or simply abstract. Web 2.0 is built on the concept of user generated content, where the people who populate and use the site are the people who make content. Sure, we can discuss issues of copyright and ownership, which are important and shouldn’t be ignored in the way I am just about to! But, what I would like to focus on with this post is the notion of connections, and the roles we play to facilitate and support the connection between audience and maker, between producer and consumer and between us and other people
Flickr represents the simplest way to transition from being a consumer of culture to a producer of it (a process that has been called prosuming, where the same person can participate in the production and consumption of arts and culture, facilitated in part by the interactivity and engagement of web 2.0 technology- for more info see http://www.freepress.net/files/CommunityMedia_ProsumerEra.pdf, which is a great article written by Ellie Rennie). We as a logged in user of Flickr can browse other peoples photos, we can search for images that have tagged or given a title, we can share those pictures with our friends or contacts, and in some cases we can use those pictures for our creative and generally non-profit purposes (note: some pictures have all rights reserved meaning, look but do not touch). However, we can do something as a user. We can upload our own creative content and allow others to consume it in the way we consume. We can go back as many times as we want to the content we like, we can make certain pictures favourites, but equally other can become ‘fans’ of our work and do the same.
So, how does flickr link creators and ‘fans’? If you just upload your own photos on flickr, sharing them with others, tagging them with labels that help people find them and then letting your friends and colleagues know that the flickr photo stream is available and running, then flickr serves the same purpose as say Facebook in terms of photo sharing. flickr can offer the user/producer a lot more however. It allows you to post your photos to albums of shared interest and content. It allows you to comment on people’s photography, whether this is the image, the technique, the subject or simply to make contact and say what you think. After you have made contact with people through being in the same group, sharing their work or even having a conversation with them through commenting, you can make them your friend and share their new uploads.
A really interesting example of this occurred on a street art project from Sydney. A mural artist decided to take an anti-burqa stance in a wall mural in Sydney last year. An artist using her own artistic medium of posters responded to the work, which she then took a photo of and posted to flickr. What resulted was a dialogue between users of flickr (including myself) about the controversy, the area the work was exhibited and the whole issue generally. Blog content was linked and a conversation established between an artist and her ‘fans’.
How did I spot this part of art from amongst the millions of photos? It was a street art group that aggregates or collects photos of street art in a particular suburb in Sydney (where I used to love). I comment regularly on other peoples pictures, whilst also adding pictures of my own (when I get to go home to take them!). I spotted the picture of the work in the group’s photo album having been recently added. Aside from the benefit of interacting with artists, I had an immediate and sustained interest in my photos, jumping from 10 views a day to 150 views a day.
Like most web 2.0 applications, flickr relies on the sharing of user generated content, interaction between users and a commitment to maintain that contact, perhaps using mediums other than flickr (such as a twitter feed or through a blog) in order to be an effective tool of networking. So, if people don’t engage by sharing content, commenting on content or aggregating their content in groups, then no-one will see the content. If a tree falls…
So, search some groups that might be related to the pictures you have posted and post some of your photos to that group. Look at other peoples photos and make some comments on their work. Perhaps blog some of the groups you have found on flickr. Here are some interesting flickr groups I just found that you might wish to have a look at, or share your photos on…
A final suggestion might be to embed your flickr photo stream into your blog. How you do this varies from blog site. However, there is a simple how-to guide located here http://www.flickr.com/help/blogging/
And to complete the circle, here is my flickr photstream, which you may find of interest. Be warned, it does contain strong language and adult themes, and is not suited to people under the age of 18…street art can be a rude and politically charged medium to work in J