Earlier this week, i reblogged a Steve Jobs quote that was lighting up on Tumblr with well over 200 notes. Here’s the quote:
Last week, I shared my thoughts about wanting to see the Vimeo of photos. From the comments and from private emails, it’s clear I’m not alone.
I also received about a dozen emails from entrepreneurs that want or have started to build something to take on flickr.
This is interesting. If I could design something like Flickr but not like Flickr from the ground up, how would it work? For starters, I’d make privacy and connections dead simple: here are people who are important to me, here is the off/on switch for how I can and can’t interact with them. Focus on gorgeous, big images without clutter. Strip away tools that aren’t used very much. Appeal to the idea of sharing moments and stories and not sharing objects. And a simple, elegant interface for you to highlight moments you want to come back to later, subscribe to events from people that you’d like to keep in touch with and a way to glean and present your own moments that you care about and want to come back to. Something that invites you not just to spew out content but to come back to the things you’ve shared to make sense of them in new found contexts. I guess I would make something for myself mainly, and wouldn’t care too much about scaling to photographers who aren’t like me.
It wouldn’t be a Vimeo for photos — I find the discovery on Vimeo to be a bit noisy at the moment. It would be something else entirely, something that plays nice with other networks but ultimately it’s something that revolves around the power of great images, something that you can come back to time and time again to look at, to appropriate it for projects, to treasure.
A lot of services now aspire to end with ‘sharing’. Like sharing is the endpoint. I’m curious to build out services that will let you remix and create narratives from these objects.
The Flickr guys are doing the work of heroes right now, because such a large service that really is operating incredibly at scale and serving so many different use cases would require a team at least 3 times their size — or more, if you consider the platform titans like FB or Twitter. And it’s so easy to think about rebuilding something from the ground up — since you don’t have to consider the myriad of ways in which users depend on your product or features that belong in the appendix. (Lord knows one of the great joys and headaches of a large service is realizing the community is using a feature in ways that are totally unexpected!) Starting from a blank webpage is incredibly liberating and so much easier than moving mountains.
It’s incredible to think the power that photos have as an underlying basic piece of the web. If Flickr turned off the lights tomorrow, how would I find photos? Shudder. It’s a testament to Stewart’s vision and the team’s execution that Flickr photos are now taken for granted as part of of the web.
I’m keen to see what they come up with next. As the only photo-sharing service on the web that’s worth any value to me (as a photographer who loves moments and metadata as storytelling), it’s where I keep my photos, but it’s fun to approach a basic idea as sharing photos from other angles.