Links through to May 21st:

  • Sensis Yellow Social Media Report 2013 [PDF] – The new Sensis Yellow Social Media Report is out (based on a survey of 937 Australians in March and April 2013), showing widespread social media use, with growth in mobile and second screen uses:
    * 95% of AUstralian social media users use Facebook
    * The typical Australian spends 7 hrs/wk on Facebook
    * 67% of Australians access social sites on a smartphone
    * 42% of Australians use social media while watching TV
  • A better, brighter Flickr [Flickr Blog] – Yahoo have majorly redesigned Flickr, giving new free (ad-supported) accounts 1Tb of storage, which is an awful lot of photos. The Android app is now almost identitcal to the iOS app, but the new aesthetics of the web-based version are a big change, looking more and more like every other photo-sharing service around today. Quite a few long-term Flickr users (of which I am one) have voiced a range of concerns about the design changes. Also, what this redesign means for people who’ve already paid for Pro accounts is deeply unclear on the main Flickr pages. (The Twitter account seems to suggest nothing changes.)
  • Yahoo! to Acquire Tumblr / Yahoo [Yahoo News Centre] – Yahoo buys Tumblr for $1.1 billion and, in their words, “promises not to screw it up”. A clever buy for Yahoo, but it’ll be hard to integrate the rebellious/youth Tumblr userbase into the Yahoo brand.
  • Introducing Photos of You [Instagram Blog] – Just in case you momentarily forgot that Facebook owns Instagram, the photo-sharing service has just added the ability to tag photos (remarkably similar to Facebook’s tagging function). Looks like Instagram needs a better map of your personal networks before they can harness it commercially.
  • Follow the audience… [YouTube Blog] – May 2013 and YouTube users “are watching more than 6 billion hours of video each month on YouTube; almost an hour a month for every person on Earth and 50 percent more this year than last.”

Links for May 11th through May 21st:

YahooWeather_LondonHot on the heels of their official Flickr app for Android, Yahoo have released a their unimaginatively titled Yahoo! Weather Android app, but behind the banal name are signs that Yahoo are finally starting to understand how the vast treasures of Flickr might integrate into a mobile media world. While this is a fairly simple idea – combining global weather data with matching photographs – it’s the sort of thing we’ve not seen from Yahoo in a long time. More to the point, the simple design actually houses a great weather app, and it’s free. Yahoo are probably paying  a license to use the Weather Channel data, but the real riches are the Flickr photos which are all provided by users for free. That said, I don’t think this is exploitation: each photo comes with credit to the photographer (well, their Flickr username) and a link back to the original photograph. For most Flickr users, the exposure far outweighs any thought of payment, especially in a free app.

Currently all photos are drawn from a specific purpose-driven Flickr group, so no one’s image will appear without them explicitly adding it to that group. However, there were just over 2500 photos when I looked this morning, so I guess a lot of the world isn’t covered yet. I’d suggest that in the next version, Yahoo make the most of those thousands and thousands of Creative Commons licensed images which folks have already explicitly given permission to re-use via their copyright license choice. Everything under a Creative Commons Attribution license, for example, would clearly be suitable for inclusion in the app. Given there are, literally, billions of Flickr photos, perhaps asking a whole lot of users to add specific photos to the Weather app group could broaden the potential photos rapidly.

It’s also noteworthy that Yahoo are focusing on Android apps right now. Rather than compete with the very entrenched iOS photo apps, Yahoo are courting Android users who’ve not really found their killer photo apps just yet.

Overall, though, it’s great to see Yahoo realising just how rich a resource Flickr can be for mobile apps. Flickr really is the jewel in Yahoo’s rusting crown, and if they can make it shine perhaps we’ll see the beginning of a fresh start for Yahoo, at least in terms of mobile development. This weather app just scratches the surface, but I suspect we’ll see tourism and other location-based apps quickly emerging, finally utilising the rich diversity of photos and metadata that constitutes the core of Flickr.

[Link to Yahoo! Weather in the Android Market]

FlickrAndroidApp_2FlickrAndroidApp_1  FlickrAndroidApp_3

Barely rating a mention since it’s not a new tablet (hello Amazon), Flickr relatively quietly launched their official app for Android today. The app itself isn’t bad, pretty seamlessly uploading photos, with a set of basic filters, tagging and some rudimentary tools to engage with your Flickr connections (or ‘friends’ if we were speaking Facebook). However, as the few commentaries have noted, it’s very close to too little, too late. There are a lot of photography-based apps, ranging from Instagram, which is iOS-only for now but clearly the major player there, through to Android equivalents like PicPlz or the ubiquitous photo uploading with Facebook.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve been a huge fan of Flickr for a long time. I’ve been posting my photos to Flickr since September 2004 — there’s more than 3000 on there now — with over half a million views collectively. I’ve also been a paid member “Flickr Pro” for most of that time, and while a few years ago $25/year seemed reasonable for unlimited uploads and the ability to share 90-second HD video, I can only imagine it’s a much tougher sell today (indeed, I suspect most Flickr Pro accounts are maintained by folks like me not wanting to lose their archive rather than any new sign-ups). All of that said, Flickr has summarily failed to embrace mobile devices and tablets. To some extent this has been countered by great APIs which have meant the vast majority of photography apps at least have the option to upload a copy to Flickr. However, it has also meant that Flickr isn’t the destination, it’s the cupboard. Whatever app people have been using, a secondary copy on Flickr means it’s there for the long haul, but the activity has been in the new app ecology, of which Instagram is the exemplar. And I suspect the main reason for the app’s launch now is to try and carve out a space on Android devices before Instagram arrives.

For an application with, lets be fair, a rubbish presence on the web, Instagram has done incredibly well focusing on building their core business: a great photo-sharing app that makes everyone feel like an artful photographer and, more importantly, builds a curational community who love to look at each other’s photos. Instagram is a light-weight app in many ways, but every single feature is the right one; the LIKE button is central, commenting is central, and tagging was lifted wholesale from Twitter and reinforces the seamlessness with which Instagram photos appear in social media streams. And they’ve done so well that within 12 month Instagram have clocked up 10 million users. But Instagram hasn’t arrived on Android yet and none of the various Android-based clones have stood out enough to reign supreme.

For the Flickr Android app, then, the question is how well it compares to Instagram. Now, with the basic filters, tagging, geo-tagging and photo uploading, they are on an even level. Flickr, however, needs to learn very quickly that interacting with photos in a Like Economy means that if you need to open a new menu to Like or Favourite a photo (which you currently do – it’s not on the same initial screen as the photos) then the odds of people liking and sharing pictures is greatly reduced. Flickr also need to radically re-vitalise the community nature of photo-sharing via their app. At the moment, interactions feel cold and forced, compared to the socialability and vibrance of sharing and commenting on Instagram. If Flickr can learn and push out a new version within a few weeks, perhaps they can become the shining light in the Yahoo crown they once were (it’s not like much else in the Yahoo world is getting much attention at the moment).

That said, Flickr does have the advantage of a robust and rich interface on the web. Indeed, I still cherish many of the fine-grain controls offered by Flickr on the web, such as the ability to explicitly chose Creative Commons licenses, and a rich set of tools for grouping and sharing photos in various ways. These tools aren’t widely replicated in apps, and I suspect its the richness of Flickr on the web which might be harnessed to encourage the app users, and build a bridge between the app and the web versions of Flickr. Only time will tell, but I can guarantee if Flickr aren’t monitoring feedback closely and already building a new version of the app, their one shot at establishing themselves in the app ecology will be lost.

Oh, today Flickr also launched “Photo Session” which basically looks like the Hangouts from Google Plus, but based around images, not videos. I can’t imagine Photo Session will find much of a crowd, but we’ll have to see.

You can download the Flickr Android App from the Android Marketplace.

FlickrApp_BeforeInstagram

Links for March 1st 2010 through March 4th 2010:

  • Tangerinegate… by Robert Popper [BBC Comedy Blog] – What happens when a prank call alleging the British PM’s temper got the best of him is aired live? Fact checking? Verification? Nope: straight to the daily newspapers! Popper’s tale: “So I switched on LBC (a London talk radio station) where the topic was Gordon Brown’s alleged bad temper. I called up and got through almost instantly. “What do you want to talk about?” asked the LBC operator. Without time to think I replied, “Gordon Brown visited my place of work and lost his temper right in front of me”. Very soon I was on air, explaining how Gordon Brown had toured my workshop – a ‘lamination factory’ – and thrown a tangerine into one of the machines, breaking it, before calling a member of staff a ‘citric idiot’. It was all I could think of at the time. A load of nonsense. But I was quite proud of the phrase, ‘citric idiot’.”
  • If you blog unauthorized “Daily Show” or “Colbert” clips, Viacom will sue your ass [Boing Boing] – Couldn’t agree with Xeni more on this one: “The Hollywood Reporter asked Viacom if the network intends to go after websites or bloggers who post unauthorized clips. “Yes, we intend to do so,” PR rep Tony Fox told THR. “My feeling is if (websites) are making money on our copyrighted content, then that is a problem.” What a big steaming pile of epic fail. How ’bout blogs (like, oh, let’s say Boing Boing) start suing Viacom for every time a Comedy Central writer lifts an idea, a blog post, a funny turn of phrase, or a story—and fails to credit, namecheck or pay us? Cmon guys, you know you do it. Television suit-people, when will you ever learn: we are the internet. We are your traffic machine. We are your idea machine. We are the engine that propels your shows.”
  • Ballmer: Google’s culture isn’t responsible for its success [Technology | guardian.co.uk] – Steve Ballmer proves he doesn’t get irony (or: how does he think Windows got its dominance?!?): “Ask Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer why he thinks Google is the internet’s most powerful company, however, and he’ll offer a straightforward alternative: it got there first. Speaking at the SMX West conference in California on Tuesday, the man in charge of rival search engine Bing said that Google’s success today was not tangibly linked to the company’s culture, but simply spun out of the fact that it became successful in web search before its rivals. “The number one thing that Google benefits from in search is that they did it right, first,” he said. “There’s a value to incumbency.” “You can ascribe these things to things like culture, but it’s never clear which came first – incumbency or culture,” he added.”
  • Researchers Suspect “Perfect Storm” of Political Opportunism in Game Violence Studies [GamePolitics] – Debunking videogames = violence:
    “* In the last 10 years, video games studies have been overwhelmingly popular compared to studies on other media.
    * Less than half of studies (41%) used well validated aggression measures.
    * Poorly standardized and unreliable measures of aggression tended to produce the highest effects, possibly because their unstandardized format allows researchers to pick and choose from a range of possible outcomes.
    * The closer aggression measures got to actual violent behavior, the weaker the effects seen.
    * Experimental studies produced much higher effects than correlational or longitudinal studies. As experimental studies were most likely to use aggression measures of poor quality, this may be the reason why.
    * There was no evidence that video games produce higher effects than other media, despite their interactive nature.
    * Overall, effects were negligible, and we conclude that media violence generally has little demonstrable effect on aggressive behavior.”
  • Picnik Acquired by Google [Picnik Blog] – So Google have purchased the online photo editing service Picnik. I’ve always found Picnik really useful for quite edits and found their integration into Flickr really useful. Of course, Flickr is owned by Yahoo, and while the noise initially is “nothing will change” we’ll have to see how Flickr’s integration with Google Picnik continues. In the meantime, I’m hoping to see a lot more of Picnik in Picasa! 🙂
  • Understanding the Participatory News Consumer [Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project] – “The internet is now the third most-popular news platform, behind local and national television news and ahead of national print newspapers, local print newspapers and radio. Getting news online fits into a broad pattern of news consumption by Americans; six in ten (59%) get news from a combination of online and offline sources on a typical day. The internet and mobile technologies are at the center of the story of how people’s relationship to news is changing. In today’s new multi-platform media environment, news is becoming portable, personalized, and participatory: portable – 33% of cell phone owners now access news on their cell phones; personalized – 28% of internet users have customized their home page to include news from sources and on topics that particularly interest them; participatory – 37% of internet users have contributed to the creation of news, commented about it, or disseminated it via postings on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter.”

Links for December 3rd 2009 through December 6th 2009:

  • Panic Attack and YouTube Discovery [The Chutry Experiment] – Great post from Chuck Tryon about Fede Alvarez’s sudden appearance on the Hollywood radar thanks to his YouTube short “Ataque de Pánico,” (Panic Attack!), 4 minute special effects driven extravagnaza in which a city is destroyed and a career created: “One of the underlying narratives associated with Hollywood mythology is the “discovery story,” the idea that a talented newcomer emerges by chance, out of nowhere, to become a Hollywood “star.” Lana Turner was discovered, so the legend goes, on a barstool at Schwab’s drugstore. Now, as the tools of filmmaking and film distribution have been democratized, those discovery stories have expanded to filmmakers as well. And although it is the case that such stories can be read ideologically, it is also true that YouTube and other video sharing sites still offer us the opportunity to be astonished by the talents of an aspiring filmmaker.”
  • Memories of a paywall pioneer | Media | guardian.co.uk – Scott Rosenberg reflects on Salon’s experiments with a paywall, suggesting it’s not the model for future news media: “I’m not hostile to the notion of people paying for online content. I do so myself. I’m glad people stepped up and paid for Salon. But the value of stuff online is usually tied to how deeply it is woven into the network. So locking your stuff away in order to charge for it means that you are usually making it less valuable at the moment that you are asking people to pay for it. And that’s why people so often respond with: “No thanks.””
  • Vampire Politics by Lisa Nakamura et al [Flow TV, 11.03, 2009] – “True Blood is socially conservative, gesturing towards a radical politics (or any social movement based politics) that it cannot (or will not) deliver. Likewise, the form of the medium itself is conservative. Like its vampires, True Blood is a relic – it airs on television, not the Internet, and it is broadcast rather than streamed. Though HBO claims “it’s not television, it’s HBO,” we know better. Like the credit sequence’s time-delayed decayed foxes and possums, True Blood is a memento mori – to the Civil Rights South, to broadcast television, to civil rights organizing and “unsexy” rights-based movements. True Blood pursues vampire politics, which are all about sexy self fashioning. Were it not for the exquisite Godric’s self-immolation in season two, the program’s credo might be “survival of the sexiest.””
  • Networking Families: Battlestar Galactica and the Values of Quality by Jordan Lavender-Smith [Flow TV, 11.03, 2009] – “Galactica’s interrogation of post-nuclear family mechanics and what it means to be human was potentially groundbreaking, but by the show’s end the reconstitution of the family breaks down, and a thick line is drawn between the natural and artificial, delivering an outmoded humanism through posthuman technologies.”
  • Identity Wars: Google & Yahoo! Bow to Facebook & Twitter [RW Web] – “Yahoo! announced this morning that it is adding Facebook Connect across many of its properties. This afternoon Google Friend Connect announced the inclusion of Twitter as a top-level log-in option. These moves will be convenient for users, but may not be good for the future of the web.” (This is a really interesting article looking at what happens when Facebook and Twitter become default identity authentication systems – so much power then resides in these systems, and what happens to attempts at standards like OpenID?)

Links for July 24th 2009 through July 30th 2009:

  • Law 2.0 – Law 2.0: The Challenge of User-generated and Peer-produced Networks, Content & Culture [Peter Black’s Freedom to Differ] – Peter Black’s primer on the changing legal landscape in the ‘Web 2.0’ era. Pitched at legal educators, but a really useful overview for anyone interested. [Talk on Vimeo] [Powerpoint Slides]
  • Microsoft and Yahoo Reach Search Agreement [NYTimes.com] – “Microsoft and Yahoo announced a partnership in Internet search and advertising on Wednesday morning intended to create a stronger rival to the industry powerhouse Google. Under the pact, Microsoft will provide the underlying search technology on Yahoo’s popular Web sites. The deal provides a lift for Microsoft’s recent overhaul of its search engine, renamed Bing, which has won praise and favorable reviews, after years of falling further and further behind Google. Running such a search system proves expensive, and Microsoft can now filter more searches through the Bing technology infrastructure. It expects to deliver better answers to search queries over time as well by learning from more peoples’ queries.” Yacrosoft or Mihoo! ?
  • Would the real social network please stand up? [apophenia] – Some useful thoughts about social networks and their differences from danah boyd and Bernie Hogan: “The truth of the matter is that there is no “real” social network. It all depends on what you’re trying to measure, what you’re trying to do with those measurements. We do ourselves an intellectual disservice when we assume that these different types of networks are interchangeable or that studying one automatically tells us about another. Most scholars get this, even when they’re quoted out of context by journalists to suggest otherwise (see Cameron Marlow). But I get the sense that a lot of journalists, marketers, advertisers, politicians, and everyday folks don’t. This is a problem.”
  • China now has 338m internet users [News.com.au] – “The number of internet users in China is now greater than the entire population of the United States, after rising to 338 million by the end of June, state media reported today. China’s online population, the largest in the world, rose by 40 million in the first six months of 2009, the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing a report by the China Internet Network Information Centre. The number of broadband internet connections rose by 10 million to 93.5 million in the first half of the year, the report said.”
  • 6 Gorgeous Twitter Visualizations [Mashable] – Cool visualisation tools for Twitter – useful for explaining the potentially global conversations going on.
  • Movie studios try to harness Twitter effect | Technology [Internet | Reuters] – “Box office watchers say Twitter, a micro-blogging service that allows anyone to post on-the-fly wisecracks for all the world to see, is the latest weapon in an arsenal of cell phones and computers that audiences use to critique films quickly, often when they are still sitting in theaters. Such word-of-mouth publicity from fan to fan can boost, or bomb, ticket sales. “Has everything speeded up? The answer is yes,” said Adam Fogelson, Universal’s president of marketing and distribution. “Depending on how big your opening day audience is, word-of-mouth starts playing a factor immediately,” he said.”