Wow! Warriorwriter Actually Wrote a Scholarly Paper on Flickr’s DMU Group

Wow! Warriorwriter Actually Wrote a Scholarly Paper on Flickr’s DMU Group for his course at Georgetown.


“One such group is DMU. I had been a member of the Flickr community for nearly two years, and had participated in more than 20 groups, before my first experience with DMU on December 8, 2009. My first interaction with the group came after one of its members left unsolicited criticism on one of my pictures of photography equipment4. The member, Lee Shelly of Philadelphia, Pa. (leesure)5, saw my photo in another group where we were both members and commented that the work in my photostream (Flickr’s version of an online portfolio) did not justify the money I had spent on the camera gear in my photo. Offended by the apparent slight, I promptly blocked leesure from commenting on any of my shots. However, in the hours following my encounter with this DMU member, I began to notice something strange happening; my shot was receiving a massive number of views.

Flickr provides analytic tools for “pro” users like me who pay an annual 25-dollar fee to monitor activity on their accounts. I used those tools to track the location where all the visitors to my photo page were coming from. It turned out that leesure had posted a small version of my photo in a DMU post, which generated a great deal of discussion among the group’s other members. In his post, leesure disclosed that his main motivation for commenting on my photo had been jealousy of the gear pictured therein. He also pointed out that I had banned him from commenting on my images saying, “LOL…so he blocked me I guess. That’s funny since I offered [him] some help on how to actually shoot shots like that the right way…then actually went and shot one for him…including the setup shot.”6

I had never seen his follow-up offer of help because comments from blocked users do not display on the pages of those who are blocking them. Wanting to defend myself from what I perceived as unwarranted criticism, I joined DMU with the express intent of setting the record straight in lessure’s post and promptly leaving the group thereafter. The entire conversation in that initial thread could easily serve as the framework for a whole paper in and of itself, but the short version of my first foray into the DMU community is that I launched off on a self-righteous tirade about being respectful to other people, and found very little support for my viewpoint among the group’s members.

However, as the discussion progressed, I began to realize that there was something very authentic about the repartee. The members’ antagonism toward me was not entirely unwarranted, and there were undertones of humor in some of the jabs that reminded me more of fraternal hazing than mean-spirited bullying. I was curious to learn more about these people who regularly subjected their photos and viewpoints to the intense public scrutiny, and I ended the conversation by agreeing to disagree with leesure and accepting his invitation to remain a member of the DMU out-group.

Today, I am an active member in the group and remain a weekly contributor to the DMU photo pool. I have participated in four different photo walk meet-ups with other members over the past year in Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Dayton, Ohio, and Boston. I communicate with members in my area on a frequent basis, and go out on local shoots with them on occasion. I even made a recent trip to Morgantown, Pa. to shoot a high school football game with one DMU member with whom I have become particularly good friends, leesure.”

You can read the whole paper here if you are inclined or interested in scholarly publications. Apparently he’s going to work on it some more and try to get it published.

You can join the DMU group on Flickr here (please read the rules before submitting any photos to the pool). This is the group where I hang out the most on Flickr.

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Thomas Hawk. Thomas Hawk said: Wow, WarriorWriter actually wrote up a scholarly paper on Flickr's DMU group. […]

  2. Anonymous says:

    Who’s this leesure dude that gets mentioned. He seems like a cool guy.