Death Becomes Flickr

I just finished reading this fantastic article on Gizmodo lamenting Yahoo’s ignorance and immense missteps in how it mis-handled Flickr (I think I’m being generous here). And the article just made me so sad.

Between 2003 and 2010, Yahoo basically demolished Flickr, along with Delicious – two groundbreaking services. But we all know that. What this article did for me was put it all out there in all of it’s gory detail. It was like reading Bill Simmons’ pice about the Los Angeles Clippers of a few years ago. Once you are done with the article, you sit back and say “How the fuck could these people be some utterly inept?”.

It’s hard to remember, but back in 2005, Yahoo seemed like it had its game on. After losing out on search dominance to Google, it snapped up a bunch of small-but-cool socially oriented companies like Flickr (social photos), Delicious (social bookmarking), and Upcoming (social calendaring). There was a real sense that Yahoo was doing the right thing. It was, to some extent, out in front of what would come to be widely known as Web 2.0: the participatory Internet.

The funny thing is that in reading this article about how Yahoo focused on integrating Flickr into the Yahoo “ecosystem”, I said “Oh, that is what Lycos was so focused on when they acquired companies when I was there.” Where is Lycos these days?

I could go on about how Yahoo crushed the lively community within Flickr, how they still have yet to get it right with mobile, and some other amazing oversights, but just read the article. But there are two paragraphs that hit home for me and pretty much justified my decision to walk away from Flickr this year.

Illustrating just how bad the Flickr mobile effort was:

Among other problems, it wouldn’t let you upload several photos at once, you had to go in manually submit them one at a time. It was downscaling photos to 450 x 600, murdering image quality. Users had to log in via Safari rather than in the app itself. It was striping EXIF data from photos as they uploaded precisely the kind of thing Flickr’s photo nerds wanted to see.

Today, it all seems too late. The iPhone is the most popular camera on Flickr, but the feeling isn’t mutual. Flickr isn’t even among the top 50 free photography apps in iTunes. It’s just below an Instagram clone in 64th place. By way of comparison, an app that adds cats with laser eyes to your photos is 23rd.

And illustrating how the once vibrant community within Flickr has fled to Instagram, 500px, Facebook and others, while at the same time describing in exact detail how I currently utilize Flickr:

As a result, Flickr today is a very different site than it was five years ago. It’s an Internet backwater. It’s not socially appealing.

Recently, Flickr rolled out a “Justified” view, a way to scan your friends’ recent photos where they are all placed together like puzzle pieces. It’s similar to the way Pinterest lays out images. It’s a dramatic, gorgeous way to look at photos—that mostly highlights how rarely many people update now.

As I scroll down I note that friend after friend has quit posting. At the bottom of the page I am already back in mid 2010. So many of my friends have vanished. It feels like MySpace, circa 2009.

This is anecdotal, sure, but I follow many of these same people on other networks (Path, Facebook, Instagram) where they tend to be very active. I see photos of the same people, with their same children and their same dogs—all looking a year or two older than on Flickr.

This justified view also serves to highlight just how many of my friends’ photos are formatted in perfect squares ‘the tell-tale sign of an Instagram snap that’s been exported. Many of my contacts’ entire photostreams are made up of Instagram photos. In other words they are mere duplicate streams with fewer comments and activity of content that exists in primary form elsewhere. The only reason they are active on Flickr at all is because they automatically export there.

The leadership of Yahoo should be fired. Oh wait. They have been. And again. And again. And again.

Missing The Photo Op

Very interesting article in the NY Times about Flickr and the swirling rumors about its demise, which from their POV, have been grossly exaggerated. What is crystal clear from the article is that Yahoo severely under-invested in this great service:

“We just missed some opportunities that we could have tried if we were independent and raised our own money,” Stuart Butterfield [a co-founder] said. “Who knows what would have happened?”Giving more visibility to photos of breaking news events, like riots in Paris or minor car crashes, was one idea that never got off the ground. International expansion could also have happened more quickly, Mr. Butterfield said.

At least Yahoo had the decency to shut down its Yahoo Photos property in favor of Flickr, which is not something they can say about Delicious

Article via
Image via The Oatmeal

Yahoo To Shut Down Delicious

I can’t tell you how upset this makes me. Delicious has been my go to site for years, since it first was released, to find great links and information, as well as to keep track of links that are important to me or need to get back to later on. I have been a loyal user of the service for years. It has been my database of links in the cloud…when I needed to find that demo on a random blog for JQuery scripts, or a tutorial on how to use CSS. Hell, I taught myself HTML, CSS, and to a lesser degree, PHP, using sites I had bookmarked on Delicious. I could not have done that without Delicious. There is no way. With Delicious, if I stumbled on a site but didn’t have the time to go deep (which happened more times than not), I could save it and get back to it. Otherwise, I would have been searching all over the place. In many ways for me, Delicious was the precursor to Instapaper and Evernote.

From Andy Baio:

Just leaked: Yahoo! is closing or merging, Upcoming, Fire Eagle, MyBlogLog, and many more.
12.16.2010 via @waxpancake

As John Gruber just said, it was only a few short years ago when Yahoo was the place to go for start ups such as Upcoming, Delicious, and Flickr to name a few. And with Tomas Hawk’s recent flame of Yahoo!’s Carol Bartz, where he begs and pleads for her to put some attention into sites like Flickr, you have to really be concerned that some of the most iconic properties on the internet, Yahoo included, are on the chopping block or at least life support.

But it goes beyond this. When Delicious launched, they brought to the masses one of the most significant and innovative elements of the web – they readily and in a dead simple way, enabled users to use “tags” to describe the links they saved. The implications of this were staggering. And what was more, they did so in a semantic manner. If you used Delicious twice or more, you pretty easily figured out that if you typed delicious / tag / [any word here] into your browser, you would get all the links relative to that keyword or tag. That combination was a game changer in my mind. Others may have done bits and pieces of that, but Delicious pulled it all together.

RIP Delicious. I am pissed. I think Yahoo may have just lost me for good. This is a sad, sad day.

You can click here to Export your years and years of links up at Delicious. Thankfully they are an open platform and freely let you export your data.

RIP Geocities

Another one bites the dust. Yahoo is closing down GeoCities tomorrow. GeoCities, like Tripod, was one of the first “build your own website” services on the Internet back in the day. They were such a high flying site they were sold to Yahoo for $3.65 Billion! Alas, what both of these services failed to see back then was that if they just built something like Blogger, they would have made themselves relevant for a far longer time. Instead, they had millions of sites with animated gifs, and really ugly tables. The irony of it all is that 10-15 years later, MySpace became one of the more popular sites on the Internet by doing little more than offering the same type of services as GeoCities and Tripod.

Good night, GeoCities. It was great while it lasted.

Movie Magic

Yahoo recently released a list of 100 movies to see before you die. They made a point of clarifying that its not the 100 best movies of all time but more a list of top influential or significant movies that you should see. I don’t fully agree with their choices but they have made a strong effort here.

I am slightly embarrassed to report that I have only seen 55 of their 100 that they have listed. I’m not planning on departing anytime soon, but it appears I may need to get over to Netflix soon. The vast majority of the movies I have not seen are from the 1950’s and 1960’s, which is way before my time, so cut me some slack there.

Now, if they did a “Top 100 Movies Since 1975 That You Have To See Before You Die”, then I think I’d have that locked up!

Yahoo Sports Beta?

Wow, that is a rough design.

Looks as though there may be a Beta release happening at Yahoo Sports. I was on the site checking out my fantasy football and baseball teams (I think their Fantasy sports suite is just fantastic. And my football teams were actually doing pretty well. Thanks for asking. :-) and saw this yellow banner just above the blue “Today in Sports” headline. The two links on the top right read “Beta Feature Index” and “Send Feedback”. When I clicked through the “Beta Feature Index” link, it went to a Yahoo branded error page. When I clicked through the “Send Feedback” link, it went to a feedback form. In navigating the site, I did not see any BETA features. I’ll be interested to see what they plan on doing on the site and to see if it’s going to compete more directly with ESPN in look, feel and volume of information. No matter what they do, the site definitely needs an upgrade.

The Brilliance of Flickr

I don’t know how else to put it. Flickr is just a brilliant application. The reason for its brilliance is how easy it is for anyone to tap into its API in order to create new, innovative, and just amazing “add on” applications and features. Similar to how Google Maps has spawned combination applications like Housing Maps which combines Google Maps and CraigsList Real Estate listings, Flickr is spawning an entire sub-set of amazing photo sharing applications and features. Here are several that I have come across:

Flickr Album
Flickr Tag Browser
Spell With Flickr
Flickr Magazine Cover
Flickr Photos on Black Background
Flickr Badge Maker
Flickr Screen Saver
Create A Photobook of Your Flickr Photos

And here is a list of many more such extensions of the Flickr application

I know there are many, many other such applications out there and I am sure I will add to this list in time. To think that I spent hours upon hours building my children’s web site and managing all the photos on that site. If Flickr could only have been around 3-4 years ago, I would have saved a boatload of time, energy, and headaches. At least I was able to teach myself how to build a web site out of the experience!

Yahoo! Search Shortcuts

Check out these Yahoo! Search Shortcuts recently released by Yahoo! Search. They are just some amazing tools for people to use to find most anything you may need. And I think the most impressive and lucrative aspect of this is how it can drill down to specific towns and regions. This is going to open up a huge amount of revenue opportunities for them.