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

Pedagogy First gets going again

Pedagogy First is a Programme for Online Teaching Certificate Class run by Lisa Lane and her colleagues at Miracosta College.

 The class is free, offered by the Program for Online Teaching (not an accredited institution), run by volunteer faculty and participants, and open to everyone. We offer a certificate for those who fulfill the syllabus requirements, and open participation for anyone not interested in the certificate.

The course started in September – broke for Christmas and started again a couple of weeks ago. It will continue to run until the end of April. Participants are very enthusiastic and many seem to be ‘flying’ in the development of their ability to use technology to enhance their teaching.

It is great to see participants experimenting with different technologies and being confident enough to share these with others. Last week the focus was on images and screenshots  and explored the use of FlickrMbedr and the annotation of photos. There were a number of great blog posts this week, but Norm Wright’s introduction   to a 3D rotating image cube caught my attention.

This week the focus has been on Audio and Video with equally successful results. For example, Trisha Hanada Rogers was on the course last year and this year has come back to demonstrate how she uses what she has learned in her teaching.

For more examples of how participants are experimenting with new tools see the Pedagogy First site.

I have been invited to talk about learning theory later on in the course. I know now, having seen the work produced by participants in the last two weeks, that I cannot match their technical skills, but hopefully I will be able to contribute some ideas from my past teaching and learning experience.

I’m looking forward to seeing what’s on offer in the next weeks of Pedagogy First.