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Wed, 21 Jun 2006
The impact of community superstars

I consider Thomas Hawk to be one of the superstars in the Flickr's community. He shoots prolifically, and almost every day I see a great shot of his go by. He's also very active in the Flickr on-line and offline communities. Thomas has been very vocal and hands on about photographer's rights. On top of all that, he also maintains a great blog where he talks about photography and technology in general. So when I read that he was going to Work for Zooomr, I paid attention. A lot of attention.

As I wrote previously, the thing that make Flickr sticky for me is the community of people. I have built up enough of a base there that I'm unlikely to switch to another photo-sharing site just for features. But if a bunch of people that are part of my personal community started hopping over to another site, then that would get my attention. The blogosphere is already aflame with the conversation about the technical end of this: should there be wholesale import/export API's or tools, who should provide them, and so forth. That's all fine, and I'm not worried about any of that, because in the end, any system that provides an API will end up having a way to do import/export. The more interesting question is, what could cause a sizable portion of the community to make the jump to a new system.

I think it's going to be interesting to see how this plays out, because Thomas has said he is going to keep on going at Flickr, so for the moment, there isn't going to be a break in the network. But if the day comes that Thomas switches to Zooomr as his primary, that's going to be very interesting. When companies try to build a product or service around a community, prominent members of that community are going to have more and more of an impact.

I wonder whether over time, we'll see further and more crisp stratification of the photo sharing market: Yahoo Photos for families, Flickr for people who want to learn and get serious about photography, Zooomr for the really hard core photographers... I'm not making a prediction about either niches or residents of those niches, but it is interesting to think about.

[00:25] | [computers/internet] | # | TB | F | G | 2 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
Hey Ted.  Thanks for the nice write up.  As one who spends upwards of 40 hours a week (yes I'm an addict) on Flickr I can't imagine ever not being a part of it.  You are right.  The Flickr community is indeed rich and deep and I plan on continuing to be very active there.  Maybe a tad less active as this Zooomr thing will take time but still very active.

For me Flickr and Zooomr are about two different things.  Flickr is a full rich community with lots and lots of community interaction.  Zooomr's not there yet.  But we are working towards that.  We need to build a lot more of the community tools which we are working on for version 2.0 due out next month.

What Zooomr's got over flickr in my mind though is amazing features (and more to come) geotagging, trackbacks, advanced analytics, etc.  Ultimately I'd even like to figure out a way for the advanced pro/am type of user to monetize their photostream (stock sales, print sales, etc.).  But a lot of work must happen first before that would happen.

But Kris can write features super fast for Zooomr and I think whereas Flickr is the richer community today that Zooomr will be the ultimate photogeek toy going forward.  For me there's room for both in my life.  I think for a lot of the hardcore photogeeks there will be room for both.  Others who spend less time on photosharing sites will have to look at each and kind of judge their own merit side by side.

I'm super excited about Zooomr and where Kris is taking.  And I'm also super excited about the rich community that you describe well at flickr here now today.
Posted by
Thomas Hawk at Wed Jun 21 05:00:19 2006

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Ted Leung FOAF Explorer

I work at the Open Source Applications Foundation (OSAF).
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