Clay Shirky has a typically quirky and insightful look at the myriad ways that Flickr is inserting itself into people’s lives. Instead of going all airy-fairy-falalutin’ on us, however, Clay keeps both feet on the ground this time, and touches on some of the interesting ways that the service is being used — grassroots micro-newswires, etc. — as well as on some of the problems with Flickr’s current pricing:
Flickr is nominally asynchronous, but has achieved, at least at ITP, a kind of social near-synchrony. Everyone who’s used email for longer than a month knows the mental calculation of ‘email vs phone’, as in “I need to reschedule a meeting happening N hours from now. Will they check their email, or should I call?” The more email-driven a person is, the lower N can be before email won’t work. This group is so camera-centric and Flickr-obsessed that that N for Flickr is sub 1 hour.
As a sidenote, how much longer long can it be until the inevitable “Flickr sux” serenade starts? Stewart et al., have had a smooth ride to the top of the charts, one unsullied by critics (mostly) nor even by anyone carping about the company’s transition to “Pro” pricing. And the Flickr folks deserve the praise, having crafted a brilliant and fast-moving synthesis of the “good bits” in social networks, web services, search, and syndication. Sadly, however, the wave-theory of digerati fashionability says that all such smooth rides eventually end, as even Google has learned, and so count on people bagging Flickr unnecessarily relatively soon.