A new baby was born in my extended family this weekend and I was asked to recommend an easy way for someone without a personal website to share photos. I of course suggested Flickr and the designated photographer started uploading baby pics. But then a few more requirements emerged and I realized that maybe Flickr, wonderful as it is, wasn’t the right choice for this application, so with a heavy heart I sent her on to Ofoto.
Why the change of course? Because despite the intrinsically social nature of photo trading, these people don’t really want a social network system. The requirement that they omitted from the initial conversation is that they want the baby pics to be private. Fine, Flickr can do that, you just have to mark your photos as visible only to friends and family — and then your friends and family have to join Flickr. Ofoto, if I understood their intro right, is perfectly happy just to host an album and let you send out a URL and a password for viewing it. Ofoto’s approach is asymmetrical and not especially social, but sometimes you don’t want to invite people to join with you in creating a beautiful virtual world. Sometimes all you want is a dumb app.
I’m sure there are lessons to be learned here, but it’s late and I still have homework to do so I’ll save them for another day.