Social networking vs. just the apps, ma’am

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.

7 thoughts on “Social networking vs. just the apps, ma’am

  1. a new baby was born in my immediate family this week (holding my son now) and the first photos went on flickr to friends and family already there, to shutterfly, to a friend’s blog unidentified, and to a private wiki. working all the angles.

    i recall the “intimacy gradient” chapter in A Pattern Language.

  2. Yes, the “join flickr” is a big hurdle for my family-only pics too. Many in my family will never login and see the nice shots. Your family needs to be quite connected or they’ll never get past that hurdle.

  3. I think Ofoto wants people to join, too, but when they join they get a few free prints. Non-connected relatives love the hard-copy prints.

  4. Yes, I see that Ofoto wanted us to join up to see the baby snaps, too, although Ofoto’s membership metaphor seemed a bit easier to learn than Flickr’s more powerful one.

  5. Call me lame, but I use Yahoo photo album when I want to share pics with family. You create your online album, which is private, and then there is an option to send a URL to show your album to friends, no password necessary.

  6. I see that Flickr now uses the slogan, “This isn’t your grandfather’s photo sharing site.”

    Exactly — but what if you want to share photos with your grandfather?

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