part three of the ever-exciting adventure

Project X

Disclaimer: This is a medium-length entry about photo sharing on the web and the merits of one popular platform versus a more hetergenous and open approach. If you haven’t heard of Flikr and you don’t remember what wabson used to be like back in the good ol’ days, then the following probably won’t interest you. Otherwise, please read on.

Unlike many people I know, it’s only recently that I’ve started actively using Flickr to share my photos on the web. Before that most of you will remember that I used to blog the occasional photo by uploading JPEG files through WordPress, and that before that I had a cool home-grown PHP solution that got trashed when I decided it was all a bit too much effort to maintain after all.

I resisted using Flikr until now – even though it would have no doubt made my life much easier – for a few reasons.

  • You have to be a registered Flickr/Yahoo! member in order to comment on other people’s photos. I don’t like shutting people out from my work, simply because they choose not to use Yahoo’s services.
  • I don’t like the idea of my photos being owned (or at least appearing to be owned) by some third party. My blog is hosted on my own domain (and not, say, with Blogger) and I like the feeling of independence that gives me.
  • I find the Flikr interface sometimes difficult to navigate and inconsistent – why do I get a column of medium sized pictures in one page and a grid of small thumbnails with another, for instance?

Granted, Flickr is a great tool for sharing photos with others and has built a huge and enthusiastic community around that, but should that community be limited to signed up (and in a lot of cases paid up) members of Yahoo! Inc.?

Take blogs as a counter-example. We in the Planet Afterlife circle have our own blogs all hosted across different servers in different parts of the world and use different software to manage them, but it’s still a successful community, right? Afterlife continues to pull in these heterogeneous sources of literary profoundness thanks to Laurie and that works pretty well, doesn’t it?

I’ve started thinking again along the lines of “why can’t I have my photos hosted on my own domain?”. The previous incarnations of wabson with photo management functionality built in also worked pretty well for some time, so could I perhaps somehow ressurect that functionality?

The code would no doubt need some modification to get it working again, and there may be some issues with the new web host. It would also likely need some work to clean up the interface and separate it from the integrated blogging tools that never were quite up to scratch. But it could be done.

The only question is – is it really worth it? I might well do it anyway just to see if I can produce an open source web app that’s less annoying to use than Flickr, but I’d be interested to know how many of the people who used wabson so enthusiastically in the old days would use it again in whatever revamped form it takes? I’m not asking you dump Flikr, just perhaps for a bit of help in testing whatever I manage to produce.

And yes – I may even put the old photos back up 🙂


  Laurie wrote @

The reason flickr is better than hosting your own photos is because of the network effects — you don’t just see your own photos, you see the photos of your contacts, you can comment on them, you can put them into group pools of similar photos. All of that is difficult to maintain — but not, I should make clear, at all impossible. It’s just that most people are lazy and/or not technically knowledgeable enough to set up their own system. On flickr all the tools are built for you — in the same way that blogger works for people who aren’t clued-up enough to set up their own blog.

As for the “heterogeneous” nature of the afterlife set: you, me and Tal are the only ones who set up our own blogs, and we all happened to do CS. Everybody else is hosted on either your server or mine (and very welcome they are!) and we maintain their blog software for them, or in my case, I set it up and completely fail to maintain it 😉

Flickr and Blogger are both great tools precisely because they lower the barriers to entry for people who want to share their writing and photos but don’t want to waste time doing admin, and they are happy to pay flickr’s reasonable annual fees for the privilege.

Also, there is nothing wrong with Yahoo, and everyone should become a member. I am totally unbiased about this 😉

  Artemis wrote @

I don’t use flikr becaus ei like my pics on my own blog. anything to make this easier would be great, and i miss the old wabson!!

  Will wrote @

Laurie – I agree that Flikr and Blogger are both great tools, but note that with Blogger (i) a Blogger user can link to my non-Blogger weblog in their blogroll, and (ii) I can comment on their entries even though I don’t have a Blogger account.

This openness means I can have a blog with another provider (or set one up myself!) and we can still communicate. I’d like to see if this approach can work for photo sharing.

Breaking down the entry barriers for web publishing is a marvelous thing, but people should have some degree of choice over which provider they’re going to pay their subscription money to, rather than being locked into the same provider their friends are with, as is currently the case with Flikr.

  Will wrote @

Oh, and I did CSE 🙂

  Jamie wrote @

Hello there!
I like living in Liverpool. Anyway, as I like to try and buck the trend as much as is possible (so long as i don’t get in trouble for it) i’d be up for offering my menial services to create a wabsonV2 if the whim so takes you, and i’m sure many other people would be up for helping out too. Flickr is fab, but i adore the personal approach. BTW, i’m v drunk. x

  Matt wrote @

Will, you know damn straight I’d be using originoWabson the minute it poked its much-missed head around the door. I’ve been looking for a decent way to use photos re my blog for /years/ now – since, in fact, the point at which originoWabson stopped.

It’d be nice if there was some way to link the reincarnatoWabson into our individual blogs a bit more – like, have a “most recently on Wabson” photo link for the blogs? Or something like that?

Hope you’ve having fun in London, anyway. I may well give you a call this weekend…



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