Thursday, September 10, 2009

Creating Social Experiences through Photo Sharing


Flickr is an image and video hosting website, social platform, and photo storage system developed and introduced by Ludicorp in 2004. Later, it partnered up with Yahoo in 2007. It is used by amateur and professional photographers alike. There are more than 3.6 billion photos circulating in just this one photo sharing website as of June this year.

Flickr categorizes its photos through "tags" (a form of metadata meaning data about data). Users can search images related to specific places, what type of camera was used to capture the photo, post processing methods, etc. Photos can also be organized through "sets", a collection of photos that fall under the title of that set. Public or private groups can also be formed to share a "pool" of photos and to discuss topics of interest.

There is a web application used through Flickr accounts called "Organizr", first introduced in 2006 that has geotagging capabilities. Drag and drop photos onto a Yahoo map area and then the photos are tagged with location info and even latitude and longitude.

Flickr's way of organizing images, providing discussion boards, and geotagging functionality has allowed a massive conglomeration of avid photographers to share their similar passions with one another.


Microsoft Live Labs released "Photosynth", a software application inspired by Flickr and based on the research done by Noah Snavely, a University of Washington graduate. Snavely's project "Photo Tourism" shows rendered Flickr images of heavily photographed places into 3 dimensional environments. The website "Building Rome in a Day" displays several initial experiments of places such as Rome and Venice, Italy. Each of the cones represent images from varying vantage points. Everyone's data was linked together to create essentially this virual cross-user social experience. Snavely took the social platfrom of Flickr combied it with 360 panoramic stitching, bringing the social environment of photo sharing to life.

On August 20, 2008 Microsoft officially released Photosynth to the public, which allowed users to upload their own images and generate their own Photosynth models. This subsequent photosharing website was created by another social network (Flickr), adding onto the endless chain of photo sharing social networks.

During Inaugural weekend in January, only several months after the program was released to the public, CNN used crowdsourcing, another type of social media, and asked viewers to send in their photos of Obama's swearing in. From there, they used Photosynth to render the full and interactive experience of his inauguration.

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