Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Awesome advanced uses of flickr

My friend Christian of Mjukvara.se ("Software.se") recently wrote a very nice, simple introduction in Swedish to safely storing your photos on flickr (and a second one about the flickr community). As somewhat of a flickr power user, this just made my fingers itch too much not to write a blog post about some advanced uses of flickr. There already exists a very nice blog of flickr specifically, but it tends to focus more on the (also awesome) content of flickr, not it's features - so hold on to your hats, here comes my favourites!

  • Geotagging is one of the undervalued features of flickr. Just go to Organize > Your map, drag and drop the pictures in the bottom row onto the map, the pictures with blue dots are the ones already geotagged, and you can browse your photos by where they were taken! Here are for example my pictures taken in Stockholm.

    This is however only the superficial benefits of geotagging your photos - what happens when several users geotag their pictures? To begin with, you can browse any place on earth which may have geotagged pictures just to see how that place looks like! It's a sort of virtual tourism, my favourite place is always to see the beautiful environment of Lake Baikal. Most convenient is to add the flickr layer to Google Earth (notice also the other options under "Geographic Web":

    If you can't be bothered to spot exactly where some pictures were taken, just go ahead and throw them out somewhere in the general region, you can always adjust them later, for example with the help of hitta.se gatubild or Google Street View.

    Did you like a particular place? Then the least you can do is to geotag your pictures so that others can find it! Unless there is any privacy aspects of your pictures (a majority of my pictures are just fine to show to the world), rather than joining wikipedia, typing articles and all that fuss (which you of course should do too if you want to) this is such a simple way to give your contribution to the global community.

    Finally, geotagging can give other interesting information to locations, like what this café looked like before the sign fell down, who others have taken pictures in your little village and whether your anonymous neighbours in that huge apartment buildings maybe are on flickr too.

  • Tagging (and notes) are a great way to give structure and value to your photo collection. Your tag cloud is a great way for visitors to see what you photograph the most and for you to find your pictures no matter how many tags you have. Flickr like on del.icio.us and blogger, I usually type some sort of sentence descriptive of the picture, and that's gonna be great keywords.

    Recently, as I wanted to put some of my book collection into Virtual Bookshelf, I took a picture of our real bookshelf and in the process, went ahead and tagged the most interesting parts of the it:

  • Linking, along the thoughts that "blogging is like putting URLs on your thoughts" and "the link is the 2008 Christmas gift of the year", is essential to participating in the social web.

    Like when I attended the SIME08 blogger meetup, and I found a video from the event - of course I will link to it so that people seeing my pictures can also see the video! Similarly, it's a good idea to agree on a tag for everyone on an event to use, and like an immediate virtual community, everyone can find each other:

  • If you go to concerts, and you enjoy music, do sign up to last.fm and check out their events. I have written about it before (and it's gotten minimal coverage elsewhere), but it's worth mentioning again. Even if it's just cellphone pictures, it is so nice to tag your flickr pictures with the "machine tag" of the specific flickr event, so people who are interested in the event can see your perspective of it. Actually, a sizeable part of my flickr visitors come through last.fm, and then I haven't even tagged particularly many events.

    R.E.M. are probably the firsts artists I've seen live which are beginning to understand proper ways to interact with their fans, as they include concert pictures from flickr, tweets and stuff on their tour headquarters. People love to see their own pictures in official sites and it will make them spend endless attention on those sites which include them (I should know, my pictures are somewhere on that page as well).

  • So should you pay for flickr? I say yes - but that's only because I am a freak. For the longest time actually, I didn't have a homepage but used my profile page to tie my web together, I didn't pay for my flickr account, and it was fine. I reached the threshold of some 200 pictures and the old ones were starting to be shifted out (n.b., only not displayed anymore, they weren't deleted) and I still didn't pay. Finally though, because when you have 200 items on a site, you're probably pretty hooked, so I decided to pay the bargain to get myself a pro account. I don't use flickr as a complete backup of my original pictures, but it feels fine and obviously worth the money to have paid for my account.

That's pretty much it, I have some more opinions about what site to use for what, more cool mashups and whatever, but they can wait until some other time. Enjoy! See also my other blog posts about flickr.


Henrik Ahlen said...

Great post, very inspiring! I have used Flickr Pro since its launch, but never found the time to dive into all the features like you describe. Now it it on my to do list.

Stefan Tell said...

Flickr is really great in many ways, not to mention easy integration with Facebook and blogs so you don't have to post things everywhere. And the Pro-account is well worth the money.

I use it as often as I can (and have the time), but haven't even started with the features you mention, might try it some day. So thanks for the ideas.

Carl-Johan Sveningsson said...

@Henrik, Stefan, thanks for your comments and you're very welcome, makes me want to update the post to make it even better. But it's true that it's usually tricky to become a power user, the owners of a service rarely describe it cleverly enough or in sufficient detail.

@Stefan, I agree, I sort of tie my stuff together with flickr too, which I should mention in the post. By the way - I noticed you have photographed in Anderstorp, I'm friends with Magnus of Motorima who owns a Ronnie Pettersson Lotus replica (I think it was), I imagine you could get some fun pictures with him and his collection :-)