I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before, but if you’ve got a Flickr account, Photojojo is running a great little free service called Photo Time Capsule. The concept is pretty simple, you configure it for a predefined time period, from one month up to two years (mine is set to the default of one year) and then twice a month it sends you an e-mail containing pictures from your Flickr stream that period of time ago. As an example, this month it has sent me firstly pictures of Jo and Drew’s wedding, secondly a mixed bag including Sophie being cute and the 2007 PCC Away Day, and thirdly the Black and White Evening at church. Certainly if you’ve got a Flickr account it is a great way to rediscover old pictures.
There are more videos to come, but amongst the interesting stuff so far are a bit of a modern day cattle round-up – Beth getting the quad bike is here, then clips of the actual round up are here and here.
Following on from the round up, is some video of the auction at which the cattle that were rounded up were actually sold. Quite how anybody follows what the auctioneer is actually saying I don’t know, as it all sounds like gibberish to me – aside from the point when one of the bidders queries something, and then the final price (which is not the price for the complete lot – cattle is sold by weight).
Here are slideshows for both mine and Beth’s pictures:
Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.
Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.
I still haven’t got around to doing my pictures, but Beth has uploaded a couple of short clips she filmed whilst we were driving from Jasper back to the airport in Edmonton on Friday morning. In Jasper itself there was only a dusting of snow on the cars and rooftops – this was what greeted us a few minutes outside town on Highway 16 – the main road back to Edmonton. The conditions continued like this to Hinton, about 75km further down the road, and then the snow gradually got less until there was no snow at all when we reached Edson the next big town along the road.
Just to give you an idea of the visibility, there is a car ahead of us in both clips. Unlike us they were doing the same journey in a regular car, and turned off once we got to Hinton.
It didn’t take long for a group of Flickr users to start kicking up a fuss about the latest new feature. Lets face it, it seems it doesn’t take long for a group of Flickr users to start kicking up a fuss about almost any change – indeed I myself have moaned about some of the ill thought out ones such as the initial change to forcing users to use Yahoo accounts when the mobile site didn’t support it – and after some bad experiences with Yahoo I was less than keen at the prospect of having to deal with them for accounts.
The latest change to cause people to get upset is the addition of video. Thomas Hawk has a page collecting together the negative feedback, the general gist being that Flickr is a photo site, and videos should go elsewhere, for example YouTube.
However, when you actually look at what Flickr say they are trying to do, it isn’t the same as YouTube. They specifically limit video clips to 90 seconds, so rather than going after people with video cameras, they are targeting people with modern digital cameras that can shoot short clips of video too. It’s not all the time, but there are occasions now when I will be switching backwards and forwards between taking static shots and short video clips, and currently the clips go to a video site such as YouTube or Vimeo and the pictures to Flickr. Sometimes I edit multiple clips together for a longer video, however in general to tell a visual story, I really want the clips and the pictures mixed in together – just the kind of thing that Flickr is now offering.
The issue really is that there are now a number of distinct groups on Flickr. There are some very vocal photography fans, and indeed some fantastic pictures on the site. Equally there are people that are using the site to share holiday snaps with friends and family, or even just as a convenient way to host up visual content for their sites. By far the biggest group of users are the everyday snappers, but equally those are also the ones who probably least use features like the forums and the groups, whereas the photography fans make a lot of use of these to look at some of the great pictures you can find on the site. Flickr have provided the ability for moderators of the groups to restrict submissions to photographs only, so these groups can continue to focus only on photography, but unfortunately there seem to be some users who object to the mere presence of video because it affects the purity of the site.
From my point of view, I like browsing through some of the impressive pictures you can find, but equally for the kind of use I make of my camera now, for the occasions when I need movement, the support for short video clips is ideal – well done Flickr, great addition.
Although by making use of internet search tools I can track some usage of my pictures on Flickr – for example I have a saved technorati search that looks for sites referencing my Flickr URL that is common across all public pictures – compared to the level of statistics I can get for visits to any of my websites, information in the past has been rather limited.
What you might have missed though, is that Flickr now has a stats feature of it’s own – see this blog posting for the announcement – which was added to the site at the tail end of last year. It takes a few hours to get the information generated once the feature is turned on, but after that you get all sorts of interesting stuff about which pictures are popular, when and from where.
What it has allowed me to do, is clear up a bit of a mystery about one of my pictures. Most pictures tend to only get a few views – generally well below 100 for a snapshot. Some have had big bursts of interest because they were topical – this picture of the two-minute silence after the London Bombs for example. Others have been picked up by popular groups so get steady traffic, such as my picture of Wild Goose Island and St Mary Lake. However even the most popular of these are between 800 and 900 views. The one exception is the picture above, a picture of untouched snow at the ranch, that has a total viewings of over 3000 – even searching for the picture URL I couldn’t find where it was being used.
What the stats have now allowed me to find out is that a staggering 3070 viewings, that’s 79% of the total have come from the Canadian Yahoo Weather site – looking at the page it has a little boxout with weather pictures taken from Flickr. The picture isn’t in the current set – it’s only been viewed 4 times in the past month, but at least I now know where all the viewings came from!
I know, I’m a total sucker for glittery user interfaces, but isn’t this 3-D flyby of my Flickr Photostream just a really cool way to browse through the pictures?
The tool that is producing the interface is called PicLens and comes in flavours for Mac and Windows, and supports the major browsers on both platforms. It’s also not limited to working with Flickr – it can do the same party trick on Google searches, Facebook galleries and a load of other sites as well, and you can even set it up your own site to show slide shows of your own pictures using the same effect.
The general idea is somewhat similar to the News Feed or Mini Feed concept in Facebook. Within Facebook the two feeds collect together news stories about people – the News Feed being a collection of stories about your friends, and the Mini Feed being specifically about one person. The big problem is that unless you add extra applications to do so, the feeds only include stories about events that occur within Facebook. I’ve got around that somewhat using a selection of applications to highlight when I upload new pictures to Flickr, share an item from Google Reader, or post to my blog, but the applications vary in how they work, and some need a kick to update their information.
FriendFeed collects together information about all those sites, plus a large number of others, and produces a single feed of all my updates – the equivalent of the Facebook mini feed. It also brings together a combined feed of friends – either for real if they have their own FriendFeed accounts, or through imaginary friends – placeholders for feeds effectively – that users can set up for friends not on the system, giving the equivalent of the Facebook news feed. On top of that, it also has a nice little Facebook application that allows all this information to be automatically put into the Facebook feeds, so I can effectively ditch the mix and match solution I have currently – and also get rid of the need to give the system a kick when I update.
I’ll have to see how FriendFeed behaves over the next few days – so far it’s been okay, although it did seem to take an interminably long time to update earlier on – having cleared out a lot of Facebook applications, that seems to have alleviated the problem. Just have to see how it goes from here. It’s not just about sharing items – the system also gives the opportunity to comment on shared items with FriendFeed – will be interesting to see how that works too.
I’m actually only utilising seven of the twenty-eight different services FriendFeed aggregates, so perhaps I’m not testing it quite as hard as some may be. Anyway, if anyone is interested in my feed, you can find it here – although you’ll have to sign up to follow me as the feed is private.