26-09-2011

Photo sharing: not that simple

This is a guest post by Oli Wood from WeddingTales, a sharing service targeting wedding events. He is an earlyadopter of Peecho technology.Since this time last year, I’ve spent a huge amount of time thinkingabout photo sharing. You see, I went to ten weddings lastsummer – which is at least seven more than I’d recommend in one go.After virtually all of them, somebody – normally the bride – would askme how they could get hold of all the photos their guests had taken. Itshould have been an easy problem to solve, given cloud services,broadband availability and so on. It turned out it wasn’t.This puzzle lead me down the path of co-founding Wedding Tales. As aresult, I did really get to grips with all the mechanisms for photosharing. There are three major considerations when selecting a sharingservice for use by a group of people.

    • Ease of use for the least technologically able member of the group,

 

    • the desired level of privacy

 

    • and the lifespan of the photos.

 

 

Ease of use

I learned to read on a ZX Spectrum in the early 1980’s andlived online since the early 1990’s. So, I tend to forget quite how goodI am at using computers. I am not the only one. Anybody with the age of30 and below has grown up with computers everywhere. The Internet hasalways existed for most of their lives. Chances are that even you, as areader of this blog, work for some internet related business or in anoffice using a PC every day. However, in a context as diverse as awedding, this does not apply to all visitors.To pick a sharing service (for lots of thing, not just photos) is easyfor a geek: “Oh, we’ll just use [insert Dropbox/ Flickr / Picasa/ your favorite service here], it’s really simple”. Weunderstand the difference between web services and desktop software, weare used to signing up for things and picking usernames and password, weunderstand what a social graph is and how multiple people can all belongto a service without having to pass on username and password. We’ve donethis stuff a lot, and we don’t even notice that we are really good at it.Sadly, not everybody is a regular internet user, let alone aself-proclaimed geek. Getting the least technologically proficient userto sign up for Flickr using a Yahoo! account could be a terrible hurdle.It might even result in a complete failure to share anything.

Privacy

Privacy has been a very hot topic in 2011. There have been some greatleaps forward since last summer, when Google+arrived. Security aside, privacy has two major issues: your span ofcontrol and the definition of privacy levels.Some services have no control and that can be completely appropriate forwhat they do. For example, TwitPic, Yfrog,img.ly and other social-media related photosharing services work like that. Other services give you completecontrol, like GoogleCircles. However, control is a double-edged sword: the more of ityou have the more you will have to manage.Understanding your privacy situation is completely independent of yourlevel of control. On many services it’s highly unclear what privatereally means.

    • Can only you see it?

 

    • Can your “friends” or members of a group see it?

 

    • Can they delete it?

 

    • Can they share it with their friends and if they do have you lost allcontrol at that point?

 

Google Circles was a big step forward. It made it very very clear whoyou were sharing with, though anomalies still exist. However, Facebookseems to evolve in a different direction, as shown on their last F8conference. The content of the recently launched Timelinefeature is hard to control. The new ticker bar does not seem tohave a filter, either.

Life span

Time is worth considering when sharing media.

    • How long do you want this stuff to be around for?

 

    • How long will you be using it?

 

    • Does it’s longevity affect your privacy?

 

Again, much like privacy you should pick an appropriate level. For aquick snap of a dog in the park on Twitter, I just don’t care if it’sgone in 5 days time. TwitPic is then a natural choice. For hostingimages for my blog I really do care, though. However, in ten years timeI imagine I’ll have moved blogging service, let alone sharing services.On the far end of the spectrum, there are the photos of my first born. Iwill engrave these on slabs of glass so they will be around for ever.Storage time is one thing, but how long are people going to interactwith your data anyway? Those photos of a corporate away day racingquadbikes are interesting this week, less so next month and probablylong forgotten next year. If you’re going to go to the trouble ofjumping through a lot of hoops to share all of this, it has to be worthit in the short and long term for everybody involved.

So… now there is Wedding Tales

The simple problem of “how do we get all the guest’s photos in oneplace” has led me down a very winding and complex path. Theresult is a service which is very easy for the least technologicallyadept to use, provides the right level of privacy and is availableonline for the appropriate period of time. We even provide aneverlasting copy of all of the photos for the wedding couple on DVD andprints through our friends at Peecho.I hope to see you at Wedding Tales– or follow us on Twitter.

Jolien

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