Eyes of the World

At big companies like Yahoo!, our ever-loving parent, there are all kinds of crazy processes to enable decision making and prioritization, planning and budgeting, resource allocation and what gets focus now and in the coming years.

This manifests itself in powerpoint ‘decks’, and spreadsheets, long meetings, dashboards … all kinds of things; some valuable and some not so much. Among them is coming up with the vision and mission statements.

Coming up with a plainly understandable articulation of Flickr’s vision was initially something I saw as annoying. The best place to store, sort, search and share your photos? Sunsets, Babies, Kittens, Flowers? Argh. This was time we could be spending fixing stuff, or added needed features.
 

MYSTIC RIVER SUNSET Bundle of joys The Boys (redux) the cosmos (2)

But after thinking about it for a while, the vision was obvious:

Eyes of the World

That can manifest itself as art, or using photos as a means of keeping in touch with friends and family, "personal publishing" or intimate, small group sharing. It includes "memory preservation" (the de facto understanding of what drives the photo industry), but it also includes the ephemera that keeps people related to each other: do you like my new haircut? should I buy these shoes? holy smokes – look what I saw on the way to work! It let’s you know who’s gone where with whom, what the vacation was like, how much the baby grew today, all as it’s happening.

And most dramatically, Flickr gives you a window into things that you might otherwise never see, from the perspective of people that you might otherwise never encounter. This photo taken during the riots in Paris, titled March 23, 2006 – 18:08, from Hugo* is a fantastic illustration of that:

March 23, 2006 - 18:08

I came across it after browsing the CPE tag, after following a link from a blog post entitled "France: Youth ignore newspaper requests for protest photos; turn to Internet. The message of the article was that even the biggest French newspapers haven’t been able to get readers to send in their photos, but a real time, street-level view of the protests in Paris was flowing into and out of Flickr. These four from Gonzale are another look:

wavespolka
prout.033

The same day I read the blog post above, the BBC ran a story titled Belarus protesters turn to internet. Anti-Lukashenko protest went largely unseen inside the country since the state controls most of the media, but people on the streets of Minsk were able to show their fellow citizens what was happening:

101_0133.jpg strike for liberty
photos by by2006 (left) and yesfuture on (right)

* * * * *

And, of course, there are a near-infinite number of other things going on all over the planet at any given moment (the page which shows the latest uploads is great to watch and reload every few seconds). There’s just so much. The world has a lot of eyes — here are an assorted dozen photos uploaded today:

little bunnies foo fooLove City, July 2005Luxurious ´apartment´ for troutsJumping spider #4Self-portrait
'S'olthe boy and girl at Alki BeachoinkWheels Ain't Movin'sparrow chit-chatparade

It’s funny that a corporate strategy exercise can bring things so sharply into focus. And it’s overwhelming to think of the sheer magnitude of photos captured, people contributing, viewpoints shared, stories told, connections made, places represented. It really is the eyes of the world.

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Posted by Stewart Butterfield
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