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GLOBAL PICTURE SHARING WITH FLICKR

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					                   GLOBAL PICTURE SHARING WITH FLICKR
(at the end of the chapter “Fueling Globalization through Information Systems”)

         Has there been a wedding, birth, confirmation, graduation, one-hundredth
birthday celebration, or other commemorative event in your family lately? Would you
like to see the pictures your sister, Uncle Wart and Grandma Mary took at the event?
Invite everyone who attended to post their pictures on Flickr.com – one of the easiest and
most popular means of sharing photos online.

         Flickr.com was developed by Ludicorp, a Vancouver based company founded in
2002 and launched online in 2004. Yahoo purchased Flickr in 2005. In just over a year
after Flickr’s launch, the site had over 350,000 members, who had collectively uploaded
31 million images.

        Flickr didn’t invent online photo sharing, but the tools members can use to
navigate the photos on the site are unique. “Tags” let photo owners and viewers label
photos to prescribe a category that makes them easier to find. For example, popular tags
include summer, winter, cute, Europe, dog, cat, and so on. Flickr takes the tag concept
further with clustering, a better way to explore photos through tags. Key in “summer
beach vacations,” for instance, and you can view a page of clustered photos with just
those tags. Clustering has resulted in such far-out photo categories as confusing street
signs, dogs’ noses, Halloween costumes, margaritas, and mannequins.

        Flickr sees photo sharing and the use of tags as a social process users call
“folksonomy”. That is, since viewers can add comments to photos, there is a level of
involvement similar to a social gathering. For a person who is browsing through a set of
photos, the notes on the photos tell little stories, as if that person were sitting by the
photographer, who is explaining the photo.

        Flickr photo viewers can also rate a photo according to “interestingness.” Each
calendar day, a few highly valued “interestingness” photos are posted to a common page
for viewer exploration.

        Flickr also allows for basic photo manipulation, such as rotation, ordering prints,
sending to a group of people, adding to a blog, deleting, and so on. Photos can be open
for everyone everywhere to view, or viewing can be restricted to one’s friends and
family.

         User space on Flickr is unlimited; however, there is a restriction based on the
bandwidth used per month. (For only a few dollars per month, there are no bandwidth
restrictions).

        Since Flickr’s basic photo-sharing service is free, revenue for the company is
based on Yahoo-placed ads on Flickr web pages. Photographers who post their images on
the Flickr site, however, are free to sell their photos. The legal aspects of copyright are
handled by a license called the “creative commons.” This license has many different



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levels and copyright protections, but is primarily for not-for-profit use of a user’s
photographs. Flickr offers a simple interface that allows photographers to choose a
license for protecting copyright.

        For programming enthusiasts, Flickr has released all application program
interfaces (API) for public use. For example, programmers have used the APIs to develop
uploading applications for the Mac, Windows, camera phones, and other devices.

        The worldwide popularity of Flickr is another way in which information systems
are fueling a flatter world.




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