Flickr hitting five billion photos is interesting for a couple of reasons.
The first is that I’m sure not everyone on Flickr has organized their pictures which means a lot of unorganized, untagged photos. Sure you can tag them, but most folks aren’t interested in spending a lot of time telling the computer what’s in the photo, they’re more interested in sharing. I would like my tags to align to sets but hey, I’m a bit obsessive about organizing things. (I also just realized that they dropped the 3 sets maximum for a standard account)
It also means that digital photography has replaced the shoebox full of physical photos. Yes, not a new thing, but the volume of photos being taken, captured and uploaded to not only Flickr, but Tumblr, Facebook, Photobucket (despite their pisspoor terms of service and inconsistent management of “violations” which can’t be explained) and elsewhere are at least double that. The search engine that can manage that information across multiple sharing sites and does it intelligently (no, Google isn’t doing that right now) will be a big player.
Another big piece of the puzzle that interests me the most is whether or not people are getting better at taking photos. If one could look at the 3000 photos a minute that are uploaded, I suspect that we’d see that a lot of people have gotten better at taking photographs. Maybe some have taken courses, or actively sought out instruction (online or in person) how to take better pictures, but most have just gotten better because they’ve done it more or received some feedback on a picture that people liked and did more of that (whatever that is). I guess the five trillion words that the five billion photos are worth would make for some decent instruction on how to take a good photo.
I’m using the term visual intelligence to refer to an ability to produce an aesthetically pleasing photograph, document or web page. Much like any other skill, experience is king. You have to learn by doing. The inspiration to do is sometimes a key problem. Here’s a couple of photography exercises that will help your visual intelligence.
1. The 365/10 project. On Flickr, take a photograph everyday and post it with the 365/10 tag. I’d go one further to geo-tag it and give it descriptive tags to help people find it.
2. The Dailyshoot is along the same idea, shoot something every day/week, but this time grouped around a theme. It goes one further to post a link via Twitter. Sometimes having someone give you constraints is a good way to focus on technique rather than finding something interesting to shoot.
3. Digital Photography Challenge is another photograph on a theme challenge, but it’s also a contest where you can vote on best shots.
4. Running From Camera is something Alec Couros posted on Twitter moments ago, but a cool task for a different shot. Of course, looking through the entries, some of them are composed very similarly. I wonder if you could work within the constraints of “running away” but shooting on a diagonal? Would the picture still work?
5. In addition to shooting more, critique more. Be very critical and selective about shooting and framing. Be reflective in your practice, think about what you could do to improve your shot selection. If you can’t come up with what you can do to improve your shots, review the basic theories that govern design, and choose one to work with exclusively.
Lots of little items to think about:
First off, I’ve been talking theoretically about aesthetics a lot. That probably rankles people a little, because theory is useless without practice. Digital photos are an easy way to add a professional look to a text-heavy space. If you are composing photographs, there are lots of tutorials out there to compose a better picture. Here’s a particularly good, short and sweet, ten steps to creating a superior photograph. It’s not in depth, but a good start if you have no idea where to begin with shooting photos.
Secondly, this idea that Twitter is not being adopted by teens or Twitter is not being adopted by GenY. Well, the data in this report is really skewed – not too many 2-8 year olds on social media. And then to have the age ranges as 2-24, 25- 54, 55+ seems a little skewed. Having 24 year olds be grouped in with teens almost defies the normal definition of teens. I suppose the idea that Twitter benefits from celebrity tweets or Iran elections is an interesting one as this signals a shift away from corporate news broadcasting (which also might explain a further shift to entertainment from news channels) and to authentic reporting from people in the area. With Twitter looking to add geotagging, this will be even easier to do in the future. Of course, we’ve all heard about Gen Y using shows like The Daily Show as a primary news source. I’m considered Gen X, and I tend to use The Daily Show as a primary news source as I pretty much despise CNN and Fox News. CBC sometimes gets some consideration, but I don’t really gravitate towards dry delivery. I like a smartass approach. People raise this idea as some sort of spectre of the next generation being unable to discern fact from fiction, but I find this generally to be untrue. Gen Y, like all other generational groups get humour and sarcasm.
Third point, Pew Internet released a study about the Internet use of the different generations. I like that the Generations are better defined than the Twitter study earlier, but the conclusion that older generations are “dominant” in Internet use, seems like a no-brainer. Older generations have disposable income and use this stuff for work, so our Internet use will be higher. While much of education is pushing towards online activities, in my experience the elementary schools are still using computers in a way that treats them as a separate course. I do know there are forward thinking teachers, out there, just not at my daughter’s school.