Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Why Flickr is Terrible

Flickr is a destination of sorts for the budding photographer. While it, like all even slightly popular photo sharing web sites, is far too vast to allow one person to truly know what's going on in it, it appears to me that many of its users are really taking a stab at "art" or at any rate "good" photographs. On the one hand, I approve. It's not facebook, where you post horrible snapshots of your drunk friends, and it's not instagram where you post horrible snapshots of whatever happens to be in front of your iPhone.

The down side is that it's an echo chamber of budding artists, all furiously influencing one another. Participants can give one another positive feedback on photographs in a variety of ways, and people rarely give negative feedback. Indeed, there are explicit ego-stroking barter systems in play "Post 1 - Comment 3" rules for groups, which require anyone wishing to place an image in the group to comment on 3 (or whatever) other photographs in the group. This leads to an infinite regress of superficial "great capture!" comments attached to the most eye-catching of recently posted images.

The result is that the only thing that matters is eye candy. Grab the eye, make someone look for 1 second, 3 seconds, and that's what gets you the trivial "great capture!" comment. Get a couple hundred of those, and maybe your photograph will pop up on the front page of flickr for an hour.

This leads to all kinds of terrible feedback - people lash HDR all over an image, or push all the sliders in Silver Efex Pro 2.0 all the way to the right, and they get a bunch of positive feedback, and then others copy that look because they want 500 comments too. And so it goes, round and round, at Internet Speed.

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