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Friday, December 02, 2005

My Friend Flickr

I once posted on some fascinating blog titles. Here's a similar list, random, mostly, of Flickr user names (I'm not making these up).

unaspiring

Kate Refocused

catmadogma

screen name taken

grayedMatter

Be Still

pedalwrench007

nihilist pancake

even elsewhere

Grim Optimist

RalphTheWonderLlama

Laughing Squid

Fack to Bront

Faded Photograph

notanartist

Delusions of Grandeur

spam receptacle

Philosopher Queen

hexod.us

seventytw0dpi

And there's Sustainable Harvest International, whose Flickr profile says, in part: As Outreach Director for Sustainable Harvest International, I saw flickr as a wonderful tool to share images of our programs with people interested in our work! I first found flickr when my husband posted our wedding photos to share with our friends and family all over the U.S. and it occurred to me that I could use it to share photos demonstrating techniques that have been successful to people all over the world interested in Sustainable Agriculture.

Sustainable Harvest has over 5000 photos posted. A short-term missionary who recently graduated from my university used Flickr to post dozens of photos of her work.

So what is Flickr? It's a free (Limited to about 20 Mb of uploads per month -- for $24.95 US per year, you can upload more, I believe an unlimited number. I have not paid, which means, among other things, that I must be more careful in what I choose to post, which is good.) photo posting service and large web community. There are unobtrusive ads along pages of photos. I have never received spam e-mail attributable to Flickr. With membership comes a home page, which links to your own photos, to Flickr e-mail, to help forums, to photos from Flickr members you have designated as Family, Friends, and Contacts, and to the general photostream, that is, to some of the photos from everybody, more or less as they are posted. You can also join Groups. You can designate some or all of your photos as visible only to Friends and Family. You can restrict usage rights to some or all of your photos.

Groups are photos on special topics. There is, for example, a group on Images of the Christian Faith, and another on C. S. Lewis (not many photos in that one yet).

You can search for photos, using Tags. It's not a perfect system, as the photographer/poster produces her own Tags. Some posters don't tag at all, and some, like me, don't always know what they are posting. I may have taken a photo of a flower that someone in Malaysia wants to see, but if I can't name it, it won't be found, as "blue flower" isn't very helpful! Ah, human limits.

Flickr is a community in that, generally, anyone can comment on anyone else's photos. Comments are not anonymous -- anyone can read what you have written. Most photos posted are of friends and family, in weddings, shopping, etc., and, therefore, of limited interest, but there is some beautiful work on nature, scences from around the world, and lots of photo art.

Flickr supports most blogs, so that you can post to Flickr and then easily use what you have posted on your blog. (In my case, just copy and past some HTML.) It automatically generates more than one size, and you can choose which size will work best for your blog post.

The little rectangle of shuffled photos, somewhere on the right margin, is a Flickr feature that can be used in blogs.

Contacts are posters you have chosen. Flickr posts a thumbnail on your page of the work of your contacts. I have commented on the work of members who are even greener at it than I, and made a few of them my contacts, so I can watch their progress, and compliment them on it. I have found photographers that specialize in insects, or frogs, or flowers, as well as at least one infrequent poster from our home county. I have 34 contacts, plus 6 friends. The contacts include a Japanese, a Pole, a Taiwanese, and two persons from Dubai. At least 6 of them are not native speakers of English. I'm not sure why these two contacted me, but they did, and I decided to add them to my own list.

Like most communities, there are sometimes problems. Occasionally someone will complain to a Flickr forum about someone copying and posting their photos. The staff doesn't attempt to monitor all the posts, as there are too many, so occasionally some pornography slips through. When the staff finds it (or is notified by other users) it is removed. But, all in all, this is a community where the things shared are not mostly words, but pictures. I'm glad it's there.

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