Going forward from here ...or... flickr uncertainty and ennui

The latest round of flickr layoffs, some chats, and some obsessive hacking a few weekends ago has caused a few thoughts to come to the forefront.

I took most of last year off on posting things. I am, by the way, uncomfortable about the things people think I believe because I am often too good about keeping my mouth shut about important things, while running my mouth otherwise. Which means that you probably understand that I like fishnets and hate cars but there are other things that bother the hell out of me that I haven’t really talked about.

Anyway… most of my content ends up either being twitter/facebook/plurk short updates or flickr uploads. And a pile of articles that I never seem to be happy about enough to blog post. Like, I’ve seriously stopped responding to twitter conversations because I was writing up a complete blog post in response.. and then didn’t post it.

I like taking pictures and posting them. Of all the things I do, I am the most free with the display of my photographs.

While I like posting photos, I love browsing other people’s photos. I very intensely enjoy the ‘Your Contacts’ view on flickr. And, before I stopped logging in there, flickr favorites of my contacts on FriendFeed. In both cases, it’s a vague randomized filtering and it works because of the giant social core that is Flickr.

Except that Flickr is not going anywhere good. I quit Y! for a good reason and have no reason to believe the trend has been reversed for the overall company. And then there’s yet another round of the people who were supposed to hold the core of flickr on the inside leaving the company. This isn’t the first round, of course, but eventually people decide that the site is going downhill and leave.

Even if Y! is a sinking ship, the real problem is the community. If people stay, it remains a valuable property that would be preserved past any corporate problems with Y!. It could be spun off or sold off or whatever. But if people decide to go, it’s dead. And that’s what scares me.

The part that bugs me, and I’ve said this a bunch of times, is that there is no simple replacement. It’s almost as if the general world of photo sharing has disappeared. Kind of like how LiveJournal went away but nobody cares about your blog anymore anyway. I might be wrong. Is everybody going over to 23 or 500px or smugmug and I didn’t hear about it? Because my impression is that a bunch of my friends who aren’t posting on flickr anymore just got bored with the whole thing and don’t have something new to inspire them to take pictures.

I think it would be cool to make a image-specific RSS reader that would meld instagram / 500px / flickr / google+ / smugmug and others. It would be a big project to do it right enough… and it’s also subject to not having your API access yanked and requests blackholed. It would also be unlikely to make any money. I’ve thought about just doing it, and then talked myself out of it.

So I don’t know. Clearly if enough of my closer photo buddies were to all migrate to a new site, I’d follow them there and that would be the end of it. But that hasn’t happened. Just everybody complains about renewing flickr for a new year, etc.

On a selfish note, it does seem that keeping twitter as a view of my lifestream does work. If I am following somebody and they post something, I will usually read it. Other people follow links when I post them to twitter.

I’m presently working on a major re-architecture of the software behind my sites. This is hard, because I know that I’m not especially good at thinking the way other people think, so I’m writing features to build a site that makes sense to me and that doesn’t always map to the way people other than me think. Mostly, it’s oriented towards removing some of the barriers I’d previously had about posting content. And it happens when I’m not working as a break from work, so it doesn’t exactly get done fast.

This is arguably a waste of time. I really shouldn’t be bothering with it and should be just using one of the existing software packages instead. Oh well. I’m doing it anyway.

I mean, I should be able to pull my Flickrstream back here. I’d intended to do that with the present version, but it’s just wasn’t going to work out the way I’d wanted it to so I’ll probably try it with the unreleased new version. And there are things I’m wondering about, like if I should just make wireheadarts.com my photo site overall or if I should try to keep the collection there separate still.