Flickr
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Overview:

Flickr is an imagine and video hosting and sharing web service. It runs on standard HTML and HTTP services allowing use on Mac OS X, Windows 7, Vista, and XP, as well as Linux. It provides support for all video and photo file types (.jpg,.png,.wmv etc) It also runs on most smart phone devices including Android1and Iphone2. Flickr is included in the Life-logging category of the metaverse. It allows users to record the events they experience through photos and videos and keep track of it all with a multitude of functions Flickr offers.

Origins and History

Flickr was founded in 2004 by Ludicorp and later acquired by Yahoo! in 2005 for $35 million3. The tool was initially developed by Ludicorp to supplement a web based MMO titled Game Neverending. The MMO was scraped and Flickr became the company's main focus4. Earlier Versions of the tool were focused on chat rooms titled FlickrLive. The service offered real-time photo sharing, but the subsequent versions focused on uploading and storing photos for individual users. Once Flickr's backend system codebase was divereted from the MMO focused project the chat room design was scraped entirely.

Originally Flickr offered users accounts exclusively for the service, but in 2007, after the acquirement of the company by Yahoo! in 2005, Flickr forced users to associate their accounts with a Yahoo ID5. In 2008 Flickr began offering video hosting services to accounts that required a monthly fee. Videos could be up to 90 seconds in length and 150 MB in size. Later in 2009 Flickr began to offer the ability to upload HD videos whilst allowing free accounts to upload normal resolution videos of any time length6.

Today's version of the tool offers two types of accounts. A Pro account that offers users unlimited upload limit of pictures and videos every month, along with unlimited bandwidth and storage capabilities. Pro accounts also have ad free browsing and access to account statistics7. Once an account stops being paid for Flickr reserves the right to delete the account after 90 consecutive days of inactivity without warning to the owner8. The alternate to a Pro account is a Free account. Free accounts offer users a 300 MB upload limit of images a month as well as 2 video upload per month. Free accounts that have more than 200 photos saved on the site will only be able to see the most recent 200, older photos are stored for other purposes such as linking9. If an account is inactive for 90 consecutive days Flickr is free to delete the account, exactly the same as with a Pro account, but with Free accounts no one, including the original uploader, can access the original files. Along with these two account options Flickr offers a RSS and Atom feed as well as an API (application programming interface) to independent developers to alder and develop its uses.

How it works:

Users sign up for a Free or Pro account and can begin to upload photos and videos to their accounts from either a computer, smartphone, or other web enabled device. Once the photos or videos are on the site users' are able to share the photos on social network, including but no limited to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and G+. Users' are also able to tag and note photos to their liking. Users have the ability to set privacy settings as to who can view each photo or video they upload10. There are communities or groups that users have the option of joining that allow them to share photos of similar interests. There are also official groups for certain entities such as NASA11 or the White House photostream12 that offer users a unique glimpse at the world of certain people, places, or things .

Flickr offers a multitude of "Apps" that provide users the ability to search for photos via Flickriver13, backup photos and videos with Bulkr14, and manage galleries and contacts with Docent15. There is also an app for editing photos called Picnick16, and the ability to turn photos into printer documents via a partnership with Snapfish17.

Many people use Flickr as the main source for uploading and sharing photos and videos on blogs18. People also use the service as a cloud data storing site to save photos and videos in order to free up space on personal hard drives. Flickr is also used on a photo sharing tool for users on websites such as Reddit and Digg as well as other private forums including Off Topic and LueLinks. Many users use the site as a gallery for their artwork which can be supplemental to resumes and portfolios.

Strengths and Weaknesses:

The main weakness of the site is the fact that to access its full potential users must pay a monthly fee. The policy that an account being inactive for 90 consecutive days allows it to be deleted could pose a problem to users who become inactive for reasons other than no using the tool; such as military service or work or school in areas with little to no internet connection. While there has been an option to "un-delete" a terminated account, it still leaces users wondering how long their files are backed up for if a termination was to occur19.

Flickr offers a very easy to use system for both photo and video storing and sharing. It has become a staple tool in the blogging community to supplement articles with media. There is still room for improvement in the editing applications, as there are much better tools that offer far more capabilities. While it may not be the main goal of Flickr to offer an application that could challenge Photoshop for example, it would be nice to see better functionality and capability.

Future:

One very interesting use of Flickr since 2008 has been the OpenStreetMap data. This service is run by volunteers who photograph cities and upload the data to Flickr to be used in an accurate mapping of those cities. This could be used in the future to map out hiking trails, or boating paths that are not currently accurately mapped. The ability to piece photos together to offer users an up to date visual map of many less traveled areas could become an incredibly useful tool for those who enjoy adventuring outdoors. Flickr could also be used as a real time photo feed for important global events, such as natural disasters and public demonstrations. This feed could offer individuals who are not there a better understanding of what is happening in real time, as well as bolster the information response teams have in managing a situation.

Flickr started out as a simple upload and sharing service for photos and videos, but with the eve expanding social network generation it could become a tool for sharing ideas, art, news, and any sort of information in the form of photos and videos. Flickr should put even more emphasis on its development of its mobile app for every smartphone operating system. Smartphones offer individuals the ability to capture a photo or video and instantly upload it to the internet for countless others to see. The Flickr app should offer as many capabilities as possible while being lightweight and not very hardware intensive.

Similar Tools

Youtube, Hulu, Pandora are three other similar tools to Flickr that can fulfill many gaps that Flickr fails to.

The Tools page is an overview of internet these other media tools.

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