Whose Flickr is it?

Screen shot 2013-05-31 at 19.05.06

Flickr – the long standing photo-sharing site of which I have been a member since 2006 – has within the last couple of weeks launched a completely new design of the site. I have surprised myself at how annoyed I have felt about this.

The new design has many critics, so I am not alone, but also many supporters, so I have had to reflect on whether I am simply an old ‘fuddy duddy’ who doesn’t like and is resistant to change – but I don’t think it’s that.

What I most strongly object to is that Flickr users have not been given any choice. I simply went to the site one day to find it looked completely different. Not only that, but that its functionality is also different.

Here are the things that don’t work for me.

  • I don’t think seeing a lot of photos packed onto one screen with scarcely any space between them does even the best of photos any favours. It’s like hanging too many paintings on a wall in an art gallery.
  • Having uploaded a set of photos to this new format, I found that I had to delete some photos that just didn’t look good next to each other and that led to the next problem. It used to be a simple one click action to delete an uploaded photo, but now it involves a number of actions. And if it doesn’t then it’s not obvious to me.
  • And then there’s the fact that my ‘Collections’ no longer show on the opening Flickr page and if I had to hunt to find out where they are, then there’s not much chance that anyone else will find or see them. My ‘Collections’ are not only the way in which I organise my photos (in my case into geographical locations), but this organization says something about me. What Flickr hasn’t seemed to recognize is that they have ‘meddled’ with my identity. Since 2006 I have developed my Flickr site to reflect not only my photos, but also what it might say about me. In one fell swoop they have interfered with that. I wonder whether the people who made these changes actually have a Flickr site of their own.
  • Finally, from my perspective they have completely misunderstood what Flickr is all about for it’s users. The new changes might be great for people searching for photos, or who are ‘observers’ of photography, but who is Flickr principally for? Apparently naively, I always thought of Flickr as my own space where I could post and organise my photos to suit my own purposes and share as I feel appropriate.

The worst thing about these changes is that they have decreased and diminished my sense of ownership over my own photos, since I no longer have a choice about how they should be displayed. I am hoping that Flickr will listen to the thousands of people who are also dismayed by these changes, and hopefully give us some choices.

Update 03-06-13

See Stephen Downes’ post about this – http://halfanhour.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/whats-ours.html – and the associated comments

2 thoughts on “Whose Flickr is it?

  1. Glenyan May 31, 2013 / 7:32 pm

    Interesting timing. I actually just signed up for flickr about 2 months ago. So, the change surprised me not because of familiarity, but because I came on one day and simply thought I had under gone some sort of settings change. I didn’t even realize it at first.

    I did notice that it was more difficult to find my sets and categories – and organization is the main reason why I signed up. The change hasn’t bothered me that much though…except that it just seems to be a generic design change that’s happening everywhere.

    That, and some of the functions don’t seem to present at every view.

  2. jennymackness June 2, 2013 / 8:22 pm

    Hi Glen – thanks for your comment. Good to know that you haven’t found the Flickr changes as trying as I have 🙂


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