Archive for May 2012

Photo Talk Plus Episode 24, With Special Guest Petra Cross

Petra Cross is an amazing photographer who does fantastic still photography as well as stop motion, time lapse and video work. Below are Part 1 and Part 2 of our show from last night. We had to split the show into two parts because of audio issues. In the first part we talk about various Google+ photography related news. In the second part we interview Petra. Check them out!

Thanks to our show sponsors SmugMug and Blurb Books!

Photo Talk Plus, Episode 24, LIVE Tonight with Special Guest Petra Cross

Join us tonight at 8PM Pacific on Vidcast Network for EP24 with wonderful guest, Petra Cross. Petra is a Googler and photographer who has been making some really interesting stop motion videos lately. The one above chronicles her trip to Paris – wow, 2000 photos in only 3 minutes! During the show tonight, we’ll share her most recent video that gives us the Google+ Photographer’s Conference experience in one quick slice. We’ll also talk to Petra about her photography and more. Joining us is a wonderful panel including cohost Lotus Carroll, photographers Juan Gonzalez, Mark Esguerra, Julie Jamison, Shannon S. Myers, and Keith Barrett of Vidcast Network.

Thanks to our fantastic sponsors Blurb Books and SmugMug! Be sure to visit Blurb for 25% off books until May 31st (hurry!) when you use the code GROW.

See you all tonight! Be sure to hop into the chatroom at http://vidcastnetwork.com/chat so you can hang out with us while we broadcast live!

Photo Talk Plus Episode 17 with Special Guest Star Rush

Thanks to our show sponsors SmugMug and Blurb Books!

Happy 75th Birthday Golden Gate Bridge

Happy 75th Birthday Golden Gate Bridge

You can purchase a print of this photograph here.

Come Photowalk San Francisco TOMORROW NIGHT!!!

Come Photowalk San Francisco TOMORROW NIGHT!!!

Let’s hangout in real life and photowalk tomorrow night!!!

Check out all the details here:

https://plus.google.com/104987932455782713675/posts/MxcegtpczaJ

Cut Through the Facebook Clutter With Facebook Camera

Cut Through the Facebook Clutter With Facebook Camera

Two weeks ago when I was down visiting with the photos team at Facebook one of the things that Dirk Stoop (pictured above) showed me was this awesome new camera app that Facebook was launching for the iPhone. I couldn’t talk about it until they released it, but today they released it and I have to say that Facebook is seriously uping the ante with photography on the web with this awesome new app.

The app is bound to invite comparisons with Instagram, who Facebook is in the process of acquiring, but there is one huge difference. With Instragram your photos really only reside in one place, on mobile in the Instagram app. With Facebook Camera your photos exist in three places. In the Facebook Camera app, in the Facebook mobile app, and on Facebook on the web. In this way Facebook’s new camera app is more of a complement to your existing Facebook experience than it is a standalone photo experience like Instagram.

The end result though is that your photos on Facebook are going to start getting alot more attention.

I’m increasingly coming to the opinion that far away the most important part of a social networking experience are photos. Photos dominate our social experiences. Everybody has a camera now with the proliferation of camera phones.

Put more succinctly, photographs are becoming the new language of the social web. A picture paints a thousand words. Old text posts are getting lost and buried and what is replacing that is our short-attention span preference for photos.

We want photos from our friends and we want them fast and furious. We don’t want our new photo communication experience to be bogged down and cluttered up with dumb non-photo things like status updates, or lunch updates, or check ins, or rants, or dumb jokes, or any of that other stuff. Give us the pure stuff. Give us the photostream and nothing but the photostream.

Take a look at the most popular +1’d posts on Google+ from the last week. With a couple notable exceptions, what do all of the popular posts have in common? They all have an image. Photo, photo, photo, photo. If you publish anything on the web anymore without a photo it had better be damn interesting, important or insightful or some sort of immediate breaking news. Everything else, MUST have a photo. Publish text without a photo and you fail. Publish text with a kick ass photo and you succeed. Photographers of course are welcoming this new trend. Those of us with mad photo skills end up getting the most attention. And we’re just about to get a whole lot more with Facebook Camera.

What Facebook Camera is going to do is pull lots of attention away from other ways that we consume mobile. The message to social networks is clear. If you want people to use your social network, give us the tools to remove the clutter of the non-photo world. I don’t want to read a long passage of text. I’ve only got 20 minutes on my BART trip home. Rather than read some long boring post, instead I can favorite/like/+1 200 of my favorite photos by my friends instead.

Facebook Camera is tipping the scales even more between photographers and non-photographers. A great number of people on Facebook will choose to use this new photo app instead of the Facebook mobile app, effectively burying any non-photo post on Facebook. Those that post non-photo clutter will soon learn that they will need to post a photo with their future clutter if they have any hope of their post being seen. Facebook will become a more visual interesting place.

Another thing this is going to do is it’s going to increase the number of likes everyones photos are going to get on Facebook. You’ll be able to consume and like photos far more efficiently with the photo app than the Facebook mobile app and these likes will be directly reflected on all versions (standalone app, Facebook mobile app, Facebook web). People will feel more love on Facebook for their photos and this will want to make them spend more time on Facebook and upload higher quality photos that are more likely to get more attention.

Google, of course, is also keenly aware of the importance of photos in their own network Google+. Today they launched an important Android app update (the same new interface that they launched a few weeks back for iOS). What does Google’s new G+ app emphasize? Photos of course. Photos dominate the new app — but Facebook’s app is smarter in a way than Google’s, because Facebook now gives you *two* ways to consume Facebook.

If you are a photo centric individual (and if you’re not you’d better quickly adapt and become one or get left behind) you’ve got a pure photo experience. If you are not a photo centric individual there still is the traditional app that shows you everything.

As far as the app itself, I haven’t played with it yet. Dirk showed it to me down at Facebook though and the most important thing is that it has one touch liking. It also is very smart in how it shows you albums. You see the hint of the edge of a photo and slide horizontally. You slide vertically (just like Instagram) down the screen to see new photos by your contacts.

Along with a superior way to browse photos on Facebook, the new app also has a camera that lets you apply a number of effects to your photos. The effects are more traditional than the artsy faux-film effects of Instagram, but they are a welcome opportunity for those who want to use the camera part of the new app. Of course you can still use whatever your favorite camera app is (Camera Awesome is still #1 in my book) and upload these finished photos on your phone directly to Facebook and have them consumed through this new app.

Today’s move shows how serious Facebook is about competing for quality photographers. Quality photographers will thrive on Facebook like never before. Facebook has seen Google’s success with photographers on Google+. They are going to compete for the serious social photographers and in the process push all Facebook users more towards communicating in our new language of photography. What an exciting time for photographers on the web. Between this new app and the pending Instagram purchase, Facebook is clearly now leading in mobile photography. This new app should put pressure on Google to also create a standalone photo application for Google+ and it should put even more pressure on Flickr to invest serious resources into redoing their mobile apps which are sorely lacking compared to Facebook Camera.

It should also be noted that although inevitably folks will compare this standalone photo app to Instagram, the app really doesn’t have anything to do with Instagram. The Instagram deal has not been completed yet and the Facebook Photos team had been working on this completely independently from Instagram. The new Facebook is iOS only for now, but I’m sure they’ll be out with an Android version too at some point in the future.

Flickr Rolls Out Justified Photos View to Groups

New Flickr Group Photo Pool

New Flickr Group Photo Pool

Old Flickr Group Photo Pool

Old Flickr Group Photo Pool

Today Flickr continues their impressive overhaul by converting the ugly old thumbnail photo view of their group photo pools, to their beautiful new justified photo mosaic view that they rolled out earlier this year for their “photos from your contacts” page and your “favorites” page. This is a much better way to view photos and much easier to hover/fave photos when reviewing them. This should bump up the faves that people get by putting their photos in group pools and give heavy group users more traction on their photos.

Although group photo pools are important and this improvement in Flickr groups today is nice, the real action for groups is in the threads.

The most active social photographers on Flickr live in groups. I’ve always felt that Flickr’s groups represent Yahoo’s best chance at social. If years ago Yahoo had pushed Flickr’s group format harder and across more of their services, I think that they could have had a social winner. Flickr’s groups are still the best group structure anywhere on the web. This is the one area where Yahoo leads in photo sharing. Google has no groups and Facebook’s groups are not as engaging as Flickr’s.

For many years I was one of those people who lived in Flickr groups. I administered a few very popular groups and was super active on a daily basis. I’ve quit the old groups that I was active in on Flickr and don’t use Flickr groups anymore though. The biggest problem with Flickr groups today is that Flickr lacks an effective way to block people. Some of Flickr’s groups (including those that I was active in) would attract the absolute worst sort of people in the world — trolls, griefers, harassers. I watched human beings do some of the most ugly things that I’ve ever seen human beings do inside of Flickr’s groups.

While Flickr has *some* mechanisms to deal with the psychotic, anti-social, and evil people in this world, what groups ultimately lack (and why I don’t use Flickr groups anymore) is a robust blocking tool (like Google+ has). On Google+ when you block somebody, they are really blocked. Not only can they not comment on your threads, anywhere that they exist on Google+ they are filtered out of your experience, they become 100% invisible to you. When the truly horrible people of the world began harassing you on G+ you simply block them and never have to deal with them again. They can still enjoy Google+ and still interact with everyone who is not blocking them, but it makes it much harder for them to harass *you* when you can’t see anything that they are doing.

By contrast, when you block someone on Flickr, although they can’t comment on your photos anymore, they can still comment in the groups that you are in and you have to see their vile hatred. They can also stalk you and follow you around Flickr putting comments on photos after you comment so that you see their comments in your recent activity stream, etc. There is no way on Flickr to filter out this sort of harassment at present.

Google’s superior blocking functionality does something more than just clean up your social experience though. Because the consequence for anti-social behavior is so dire (with Google’s complete and total block) it actually encourages people to be on better behavior. People are friendlier and more polite because those that just want to hurt other people or cause grief are quickly marginalized into obscurity as more and more people block them. Bad behavior removes your soapbox on Google+. Although Flickr does allow a group administrator the power to ban trolls, it doesn’t give group members the same freedom to filter them out of their personal experience. It’s either you choose the group or you don’t. You take it as it is and have no control over what you see in your group and what you don’t.

If a user decides he/she is going to bomb the group threads with SCAT porn (as has been done in Flickr groups in the past) there is no mechanism for you to take control over that account and filter it out. Instead you have to wait for an admin to come around and deal with it, or report it to Flickr to eventually deal with it. This makes groups a hostile place on Flickr and I’ve watched many of the best Flickr accounts completely abandon groups. The sad thing is that Flickr could clear this up so quickly just by adopting Google+’s superior approach of allowing us a total and complete blocking tool. For the life of me I have no idea why Flickr would want to force people who don’t want to interact with each other to interact. You should be able to block anyone for any reason.

The other thing that Flickr groups need is the ability to hide certain threads and filter them out of your flickr experience. Thread bumping can contribute to conversation in groups, but inevitably there are threads that you are just not interested in. I may love a group and love participating in it, but if I hate football, why should I have to keep seeing the “who is going to win the superbowl” thread? Why not let me filter whatever threads I want out of my group experience?

Also if I *really* like a certain thread, I should be able to subscribe to it. Flickr should then give me a single page where I can view all of the threads that I’m subscribed to across all groups sorted by recent activity. This would create much more cross pollination of groups and also help me ensure that I don’t miss the threads that I care the most about.

Finally, flickr needs to create a simple group thread reader on the mobile. These are Flickr’s most active users. Flickr should want them engaging in group threads while they are in line at the supermarket instead of browsing around on Instagram or Facebook. Today’s mobile app lacks any ability to browse group threads on Flickr and trying to view an actual thread page on flickr with a mobile browser is nearly impossible. Getting group threads into mobile should be a top priority for Flickr as the thread addicts are the most hardcore users on Flickr of all.

Her Way of Touch

Her Way of Touch

From a Business Perspective I Think Facebook is Interesting Because…

Stay Focused and Keep Shipping

Facebook’s stock price seems to be the story of the day for the tech world today. Henry Blodget has a story titled “Well, Now That Everyone Has Sobered Up, Let’s Figure Out What Facebook Is Actually Worth…” As far as Facebook’s stock price goes I’m not even going to begin to speculate — but I will share some things that I think are interesting to me from a business perspective.

It feels to me like Facebook is starting to heavily push the whole “liking” commercial businesses thing. I noticed this a few weeks back when my friend Robert Scoble seemed to be liking everything under the sun on Facebook. Scoble’s usually on the cutting edge and out way ahead of the mass market on this stuff, but the best I can figure it out the deal goes something like this.

Only a percentage of your friends see some of what you post on Facebook on any given day. By liking products, a link to your Facebook page is included with advertising on Facebook. The more things you like (that potentially advertise) the more your profile is promoted in advertisements by Facebook. Even if people don’t click on the advertisement, they just might click on your icon to get to your page. The more you like, the more exposure you get on Facebook. Most people want their friends to see more of what they are doing because most people like attention. Facebook provides you more attention the more things that you like — a fair trade.

Of course you won’t like dumb things, because what you like is reflective of who you are. If all your friends hate Walmart and think it’s uncool, you probably won’t like their page necessarily — but you probably will like cool restaurants that you like, or clothes, or food stuff, or services, or whatever.

Now there are two ways that I think all of this liking business could be very, very valuable for Facebook. The first one is by Facebook selling analytics to advertisers on who likes what. Klout (who everybody seems to hate but everybody seems to have an account) is building their entire business, it seems, on giving people a score on how influential they are that marketers can use.

Facebook could be able to do one better. Imagine if the 26 million people+ who currently like Oreo Cookies on Facebook could be analyzed. If you were Nabisco and you could get the list of the top 5,000 people ranked by followers on Facebook who already “like” Oreo Cookies, how valuable would that list be for promotional value?

Let’s say all 5,000 of these people had thousands of followers each and Oreo was going to launch a new mint cookie. What if there was an option (or default) on Facebook that said, hey, let cool companies that I like give me free stuff ok? And now what if Oreo could send these 5,000 people all a coupon for a free package of a new mint Oreo cookie they were launching at their supermarket, or two free packages, or a free package in the mail with an Oreo tshirt — whatever.

Now, what if a percentage of these 5,000 influencers then took to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Flickr, their mommy blogs, etc. and talked up this new mint cookie. An advertisement is worth something, but a personal word of mouth type endorsement from all these people wouldn’t be a paid advertisement. It would be word of mouth type stuff — so much more valuable and effective than a mere advertisement. Many people say they never click on advertisements. Maybe this is true, but we know that SOMEBODY is doing all that clicking. How much more enticing would an actual legitimate post about a company’s product be though? What if Oreo could even incent influencers to spread the word, more.

“Reshare this post about us and we’ll send you a second or third free package of our delicious new mint cookie.” Facebook could provide Nabisco with a highly targeted list of the most influential people in the world WHO ALREADY LIKE THEIR PRODUCT! That’s the key. People don’t want to endorse crap that they don’t like or use. But they love talking up stuff they like natural.

I LOVE those sea salt and vinegar chips. You know the ones. In the dark blue bag. OMG they are the BEST! So addictive. Oh yeah, they are called Kettle. Would I take a photo of a bag of those chips if they sent me a free box of them. Probably.

That seems like pure gold to me.

But what about the privacy problem?

Privacy Schmivacy. Privacy concerns are for “old” people. (I’m just exaggerating here to make a point, if you are a privacy zealot please, please don’t hate on me). Besides who cares if a company knows you like their product. Do you really care if people know you like Oreo cookies? It’s not like you’re liking sex toys or something (well maybe *some* of you are).

The point is that if you are willing to publicly or to your friends say you like a product on Facebook, it’s probably not something that you are ashamed of and heck, if you can get free stuff from companies that you like, why the hell not opt in, everybody likes free stuff right?

What would this sort of detailed reporting be worth to a marketing director for a consumer products company? I don’t know. You tell me. This article says Kim Kardashian gets paid $10,000 a tweet. Instead of paying Kim $10,000, what if you could just give 5,000 of the next level of influencers down beneath Kim a free $2 package of cookies or Pop Chips or whatever? What if you could give the 100 people after Kim each a $100 pair of Nikes when they already like Nike shoes? Would you want 100 influential people facebooking/tweeting/walking around town talking about the cool new pair of shoes Nike gave them? They pay athletes to wear them, why not see if you can’t scale that sort of thing?

Everybody with any sort of influence is mostly on Facebook already. Facebook wants the world to be a more connected place. Why not connect products with the people who like them and will endorse them? Who is working with endorsement marketing for the levels below the celebrities? Is there a huge business opportunity here? I think there might be.

Another interesting idea for Facebook — I think by having your friends’ avatar on company pages in advertisements it probably increases the effectiveness of these ads for marketers — but what if you could take this further? What if Facebook actually allowed you to personally endorse products in your own words.

I love Blurb books and SmugMug photo sharing. I think they are great [and they both sponsor my show which is on Wednesday nights at 8Pm PST 😉 ] What if I could complete a two sentence thing that said something like “Blurb books are the best, I’ve published 10 books through them and they are my favorite on demand book publisher,” or “SmugMug is awesome, they give 85% of photo sales markups to photographers, A+”

Now what if that testimonial could accompany an advert to all my friends and followers? Would that be a more valuable advertisement? I bet click through rates would go through the roof if they did that. What if Facebook actually turned this sort of thing into an affiliate program that you could sign up for and shared some of the advertising money with you (you mean you could actually get PAID to be on Facebook?)? Advertisers could buy a regular ad, or pay a lot more for a hyper effective friends testimonial ad.

Now how much revenue/earnings does Facebook make today? Who knows. Who cares. The point is that there are new creative ways that they just might be able to completely redefine advertising using highly personal and targeted tactics. One thing they do have today (and probably for a while going forward) is the audience. Will they do stuff like this? I don’t know, but I think they could if they wanted/needed to. I think Facebook could do alot of things if they needed or wanted to. I think the money flow stuff can be turned on and off at will almost.

Facebook doesn’t strike me as being entirely concerned about the money side of things though and I think this is a good thing. Some of the Wall Street types gave Zuckerberg a hard time about not wearing a suit to the IPO roadshow. I thought it was brillant that he didn’t. I loved that he didn’t wear a suit to the IPO roadshow but did wear a suit to his wedding this last weekend. I think there’s a subtle statement in there somewhere.

I think Facebook is going to be just fine on the money side of things. I think they are doing about what they should be doing and should just continue focusing on making cool stuff (especially for photos). Forget about the stock price distraction. Instead just stay focused and keep shipping.

Angrier Animals

The Angrier Animals