Archive for the ‘Google Plus’ Category

Birthdays at Google.com Shows Google’s Continued Commitment to Google+ in a Big Way

Screen Shot 2012-08-29 at 2.46.26 AM

“You say it’s your birthday
Well it’s my birthday too–yeah
You say it’s your birthday
We’re gonna have a good time
I’m glad it’s your birthday
Happy birthday to you.”

– Beatles

Google is rolling out birthdays at Google.com. Basically each day when you go to Google.com you will see a list of people who you follow on Google+ who are having a birthday that day. This is so much bigger than that though. Not only will you see a list of people when you go to Google.com, you will see a list of people whenever you do a basic search on Google in any way period. If you type a search query into the Chrome box, if you use Firefox and type a search query into the search box, however you use Google for search, when you search (and are logged into your Google account) every way you search you’ll be reminded of birthdays going forward.

Google could have put this information anywhere on the web but they specifically, and strategically, chose to put it in their most heavily trafficked product of all. This is not the first time that Google has used Google.com to promote Google+. Some of you will remember the big blue arrow several months back on Google.com promoting Google+ — but this is more significant than previous usage because it’s a new commitment to using search *every* *single* *day* going forward to promote G+.

Back in May I did an unscientific poll asking if people would like to see a birthday feature on G+ like Facebook and it came back that about 60% of folks did want a feature like this. I love saying happy birthday to people and have been using Facebook over the past year to wish many people happy birthday on Google+ — which feels super weird and I also miss a lot of birthdays when I’m not paying attention. Now I can get this information directly from Google.

Google could have chosen to put this information somewhere on Google+, but they carefully chose instead to put it on some of the absolutely most valuable web space in the entire universe. Pay attention. This is important. I believe the reason why Google chose to put this information on Google.com is because they wanted a way to suck more people into Google+ who have inactive accounts. Even more than a fun feature to let you say happy birthday to your friends, this new feature is an irresistible advertisement sucking you into being more social on Google+.

Everybody and their brother has a Google+ account at this point. Google has been pushing it hard in a unified way across the entire company and every day thousands of new people sign up for google accounts to use things like gmail and end up on Google+ even if they don’t specifically want to be. This is a big number. Some of these people check it out, see that their friends are still over at Facebook and don’t come back. Others, like me and a huge part of the photography community, stay and make a home there and recognize it for what it is, the best, most functional, most lubricated social network in history.

You have to try Google+ for a while to get into it. It takes some effort. Most people are lazy and unlike early adopters need to warm up to something new. So a lot of people have Google+ accounts but are not super active on them yet.

But.

Everybody uses Google search. Everybody. And now anyone logged into Google (and this is a big number on any given day) is going to see a highly personal targeted advertisement for Google+ every time someone in their circles has a birthday.

Saying happy birthday to a friend is such a fun thing to do. We all want to do it. Just look at your friend’s Facebook page when it’s their birthday. It’s so full of great wishes. And when your friends wish you happy birthday, you have to say thank you back right? So this new feature will inject millions of new interactions between individuals into Google+ every single day. This is a hook bringing folks back into Google+. For many people they will say happy birthday and leave and not come back again. For some they will say happy birthday to four friends over the coming months and then these conversations will spark up and many, many of these people will be drawn into using Google+.

This may feel like a minor new feature, but it actually may be the most significant thing that Google has done yet to promote Google+. Using their most powerful resource to advertise for Google+ every single day going forward is a huge commitment. To those who question Google’s commitment to Google+ this should be a clear signal that they could not be more committed to Google+ going forward. Google is all in with this one.

There will probably be haters of this new feature even though everybody loves a good birthday. Google+ has had it’s naysayers from day one.

First there are those who are just lazy and don’t want to maintain another social network. Who cares if Google+ is better these people say, I’m already on Facebook.

Then there are those who see Google+ as a competitor to other places where they have built significant identities on the web. These are the folks who complain that Google is polluting search with all this Google+ nonsense. These were the same folks that complained the loudest about Search Plus Your World. For many of these people they’ve made significant commitments to their own blogs or other networks and Google+ is competition to this. They don’t like the fact that Google is pushing them to G+ if they care about search and SEO.

Finally there are the FUD people. These people still show up and will try to make arguments about how Google+ is a bad idea from some language plucked deep out to the TOS. Just watch, we’ll probably get a few comments from the tinfoil hat types about how Google is going to try and steal your photographs even on this very post (rolls eyes).

By the way, if you are one of the hyper privacy types be aware that sharing your birthday is not turned on by default. You get to decide exactly who you want to share it with. Maybe you don’t want to share it with anybody, maybe you just want to share it with people you are following. Maybe you want to share it with the world. Whatever you want to do the choice is yours.

The bottom line is that Google+ is here to stay. Not only is it here to stay, it is very likely going to be the dominant social network on the web going forward. Whether you are using Flickr or Twitter or Facebook ( I use all three by the way) it will be to your benefit to beef up your presence on Google+. Don’t underestimate Google’s power to continue promoting this network. The commitment could not be stronger and this feature should make that clear. The earlier you get on the more you’ll benefit from this amazing network.

About a month ago I watched a Google+ hangout done with Google Social Chief Vic Gundotra. If you missed this interview, check it out, it’s really informative. One of the things that really struck me in the interview was when Vic said that Google regularly thinks out 10 years in advance. 10 years in advance. Think about that. At the pace of new features that Google+ has been rolling out in the last year alone, it clear that this network will continue to evolve in some of the best ways possible going forward.

You can find me on Google+ at one of these slick new custom Google+ urls at http://google.com/+ThomasHawk

Oh and happy birthday btw to Angela Pan and Michelle Arevalo-Carpenter. :)

20 Pro Tips For Photographers on Google+

20 Pro Tips For Photographers on Google+

Google+ continued to grow last month. Although slowing a touch after June’s big run, it’s clear that Google+ is expanding as a major and important social network. Like most networks, those connecting earliest benefit the most in the end. It pays to be an early adopter as far as social networks are concerned.

Many different and independent communities are emerging on Google+. More than any other community, photographers have thrived on Google+. Every day millions of new photos are added to Google+ and photographers have flocked to the site to interact in many ways around their work.

Every now and again I hear from photographers saying that they just don’t get Google+, that despite seeing so many others succeed here, they just can’t seem to gain any traction. At the end of the day a basic tenant of any social network is that you get out of it what you put into it. None of us can expect to simply post our photos and have the abyss that is the world wide web immediately recognize our artistic brilliance and talent and propel us to new heights of exposure.

Social networks take work. They take tending to. They take activity and participation. With this in mind, I thought I’d share 20 Pro tips that might help you do better at Google+.

1. Consider not watermarking your work. Many photographers and viewers dislike having to consume watermarks and signatures. A person who posts unwatermarked photographs never alienates anyone. Someone who posts watermarked photos will likely alienate at least some. I know all the arguments about your work being stolen and all that — this post is not about how to avoid having your photos stolen though, it’s about how to gain exposure on Google+.

Lots of folks, like me, generally dislike consuming watermarks and so we don’t follow a lot of photographers who use them. For what it’s worth, it’s super liberating to stop caring about whether your photos are stolen on the web or not.

This is not a hard and fast rule, but if you’re not gaining traction on Google+ you may want to ask yourself is it me, or is it my watermark?

2. Respond to every question someone asks you on your photo. As you develop a following over time, inevitably you will be asked questions on your photos. What settings did you use? Where did you take this? Did you use a filter on this? Look for opportunities to interact with others on your photos. It’s your job to stay on top of the comments on your photos most of all. If someone asks you a question on your photo and you don’t respond to them, they probably won’t ask another one.

3. Use the +username feature on Google+ and ask lots of questions of others. Show an authentic curiosity and interest in the work of others. Google+ is not just a place for you to share your work. It’s a place for you to learn and grow as a photographer. If you have a question about a photo, ask it — and when you ask it, always +username the person you’re asking. If someone is super popular and busy, they might not always be able to get back to you, but a lot of people will get back to you.

By +username mentioning someone it creates a hyperlink to their name and it also sends them a notification in their G+ notifications and possibly into their email. I routinely go through my mentions (sorry I can’t keep up with all of them) and answer lots of questions that people have for me about my own work. If you comment on my photo without a +username mention there’s a bigger chance I might not see it. If you use the +username I’ll be more likely to see it. Don’t abuse this, but if you do have a question, don’t be shy. Ask it and +mention the person you are asking.

4. Participate in some of the photography related shows on Google+. Lotus Carroll and I broadcast Photo Talk Plus every Wednesday night. Trey Ratcliff’s Variety Hour is on Mondays. Life Through the Lens, The Photoshop Show, The Billy Wilson and Tibby Show. You can find some great G+ hangout shows on Keith Barrett’s Vidcast Network.

Many of these shows have chat rooms that go on when they broadcast live. Watch the show and chat with other photographers during the show. You’ll meet some of the most active photographers on Google+ and make new friends.

5. Sharing is caring. If you see something you really like, share it. The other day I saw this kick ass photo that my sister took of my wife and I shared it. You have to be careful about balancing your stream with your own work and shared work, but people love it when you share their work. When you share something, don’t just share it, add a note about why you like it and what caught your eye particularly.

Most importantly, +mention the person whose work you are sharing in your note about why you like their work so that they are notified that you’ve shared something of theirs.

Also be sure to +1 and comment as much as you can too. If you like something don’t be shy. +1 every single thing you like. If something stands out in particular comment too.

Don’t forget about mobile here either for +1s. One of things I like to do to work out is to spend an hour walking laps in the park near my home. It’s got lots of hills and I do 7 laps in an hour while listening to music on my phone. It helps to make the time go by faster for me to use G+’s mobile app and +1 some great photos by my contacts while I’m walking the laps.

6. Post regularly. If you really want to be active on Google+ I think you need to post at least once a day if you can. It’s easy. It only takes a few seconds to send a photo to G+. Build a folder up of work that you want to share so that it’s easily accesible on your computer even when you don’t have time and just pop a photo up regularly.

Nothing is a turn off like looking at someone’s G+ stream and seeing that they haven’t posted in 6 weeks. There are even scripts which people use to uncircle inactive people on G+. I try to post 5 photos a day spread out throughout the day on G+. This feels about right to me for what I do. You may not have the output I do or the inclination to post that often, but post regularly so that people know you are serious about using G+.

7. Fill out your profile as completely as possible. Have a creative avatar. Give yourself a description. Add in the other social networks where you have accounts. Take advantage of your photostrip on your profile page. Don’t just use the generic circle pattern that Google puts there if you don’t upload something. Here’s my profile. Your profile says a lot about who you are.

8. Don’t be a jerk, offer unsolicited criticism, troll, etc. Try to avoid negativity as much as possible. Don’t bitch about how something on G+ sucks, or how you can’t believe how unfair something is.

In fact, be super nice to everyone you meet. Be authentically positive. I’ve been on the web for over a decade and it took me a while to learn this one myself. Nobody wants to hang out with someone who is bitching all the time. If you feel you need to criticize something, do it respectfully, genuinely and make sure that a person that might feel criticized by your remarks knows that it’s not personal.

I don’t mind people who want to respectfully debate something, but yeah, haters gonna hate. Haters also gonna get blocked though. It’s so easy to block someone on G+. I block people all the time. Then you’re completely invisible to me.

Also, unless you know someone really well and know that they actually *want* your unsolicited criticism on their photo, don’t offer it up. Keep it to yourself. Yes, someone may actually want that, but a lot of people won’t — and if you don’t know them well enough to know what kind of person they are it’s best not to tell them that their HDR is garish or that they should go back to photography school and start over. Art is subjective, always remember that.

9. Don’t post gifs, crazy memes, stuff that’s being passed around Facebook and other stupid crap. People hate this stuff. They will uncircle you. If it’s *your* cat and *you* took the photo and *you* came up with the witty caption, *and* it’s caturday, maybe, just maybe, but otherwise avoid this stuff like the plague. The rare exception to this is if the meme is ABOUT someone in the community. Feel free to participate in these.

10. It’s YOUR job to get your friends here from other networks, not Google’s. Don’t be lazy. Don’t blame G+ for not getting all your Facebook friends over here. These people are your base. Don’t let them say no. Keep bugging them over and over again and get them on Google+. Post often on your other networks linking to your Google+ page and talking about how cool a place it is and how all your friends should come join you.

Many of my favorite people on G+ came here because I posted non-stop on Flickr about how much fun I was having on Google+. Make sure your profile pages on your other networks include a link to your Google+ page. Go on Twitter and Facebook and tell other photographers especially that they should be on G+. Write blog posts (like this one) about how great G+ is. There is only one person to blame for your copout that all your friends are on Facebook instead of Google+: YOU! Make it your personal goal to bring these people over!

11. Try to post your best work. Especially on weekday mornings. Nothing gets you followers like really well done work.

12. Keep an eye out for popular circles that are shared on Google+. If someone shares popular circles on G+, they are someone you might want to try and get to know. Don’t just ask them as a stranger to put you in their photographers circle — instead make it a point to try and get to know them, to try and interact with them. Hopefully this can happen authentically and organically. If you *do* get to know someone and know them well and they’ve just overlooked your work in their circle, maybe you can ask them then. Popular circles are one of the biggest ways to gain new followers on G+. Make some circles and share them yourself too. Don’t go crazy or overboard with this, but try it out.

13. Participate in active conversations. Look for active conversations on other people’s photos and participate on them. There is constantly a debate or conversation going on somewhere on Google+. Find it and participate.

14. Be funny. Everybody loves humor. Because of this everybody loves Michael Seneschal.

15. Participate in social games and activities. There are so many daily themes on G+ now. Some of them are really well curated and followed. #selfysunday, Macro Monday, Christa Rae’s Photography Scavenger Hunt, etc. Here’s a whole bunch of G+ photo themes for you to explore.

16. Developing friends on any social network takes time. Just like in real life. People need to get to know you a little bit first.

When I first met Gino Barasa I thought he was a stalker, hell, I still think he’s a stalker but a really cool stalker now.

Especially if you are male and the person you are interacting with is female there will be some natural tension there. Females get a lot of crap thrown at them online. There’s a lot of crazy people out there in internetland. Some people are creepy. Don’t expect everyone just to immediately recognize you for what a great guy you are. Don’t overdo it. Just be natural and be yourself. If someone doesn’t like you for some reason, don’t let it bother you. Lots of people don’t like me.

17. Make sure that there are photos of you on your photos of you page. This makes you seem like a real person. If nobody else has posted any, do a few self portraits yourself or put some family photos up that show you. This makes you feel more approachable and human. Don’t worry if you’re not a total hunk like Michael Bonocore, just get those photos of you up and you’ll be that much more inviting.

18. Participate in hanoguts and follow up. There are always hangouts going on G+. Don’t be shy. Jump into one. Introduce yourself. Say hello. Spend an hour or so just chatting with folks. Get to know them.

If there is someone who you find interesting, be sure to follow them after the hangout. Maybe even set up a special circle for “people I’ve done hangouts with” and make sure to go back and interact with their posts. Also look for G+ photowalks in your area. These are GREAT ways to interact in a highly personable way with people in the community.

19. Let people know more about you than just your photography. I’m a photographer, but I’m also a husband and father, a blogger, a caretaker of two awesome labradors. I love San Francisco and Oakland and great restaurants and food and wine and especially music. Share not just what you make but who you are.

20. *MOST IMPORTANT* Keep at it. Don’t give up. Charles Bukowski once said that endurance is more important than truth. I don’t know if it really is, but I’ve always liked the way that sounded. DO NOT GIVE UP. It will take you a while to build up friends/traction/an audience etc. This does not just happen overnight. Keep at it and I guarantee you if you plug into the community like I’ve described above and you are a genuinely nice and authentic person, you’ll end up getting a ton out of Google+ both for you and your photography.

Bonus tip for newbies. When you post your photos post them publicly. I see so many new people posting their photos to limited circles. Unless there is a specific reason why you *don’t* want everyone to see your photo, it will get more traction if you post it publicly. If your goal is to get as broad as distribution as possible for your photos, you are limiting friend’s ability to reshare them publicly or most of the world to even see them if you do not set the photo to public when you share it.

By the way, if you want to find some active photographers on G+ to get to know, be sure and check out my 2,000 Kick Ass Photographers on Google+ circle.

You can follow me on Google+ here.

Do you have more tips on using Google+? Be sure to add them here!

Flickr vs. Google+ Unique U.S. Visitors Last One Year

Flickr vs Google Plus, Last One Year

2,000 Kick Ass Photographers On Google+

2,000 Kick Ass Photographers on Google+

Over the course of the past year I’ve immensely enjoyed the photographic community on Google+. As I’ve met new photographers and new members I’ve maintained a circle with some of the photographers that I’ve most enjoyed following. When you make a circle or a list like this you always leave some people out. This is the downside to sharing a circle like this. For the 2,000 that you include, there are 50,000 that you exclude. Hopefully some of these people will be folks that I can reshare when this circle hits 2,500.

The photography community is thriving at Google+. It is a vibrant active place where photographers interact and share their work on a daily basis. Thank you to Google for giving us such a wonderful new platform and such a beautiful and exciting new way to share our work with the world.

If you are not on Google Plus yet, hop on board. Here are some great photographers to start your experience with.

Part 1 of 4 (Photographers A-Ev)
Part 2 of 4 (Photographers Ev-La)
Part 3 of 4 (Photographers La-Ro)
Part 4 of 4 (Photographers Ro-Z)

You can follow me on Google+ here.

The Square Crop is My Favorite Crop and More Thoughts on Photo Layout and Design

The Square Crop is My Favorite Crop and More Thoughts on Photo Layout and Design

I know you’re not supposed to have a favorite crop, but the square crop is my favorite.

I’m not sure if anybody’s noticed or not, but I think in the past few days Facebook has added a few little redesign elements into our timeline views. Most notably it seems like the “your contacts” that they show you are better positioned. More and more these days I’ve noticed that from a design standpoint facebook seems to be favoring the square crop. I love this.

Look how square all of the photos look on my Timeline screenshot above. I get a big bold photo (square). I get thumbnails of 8 of my friends (I have no idea how Facebook chooses who to show here do you? — but again square). I get avatars of 58 friends I’ve added recently (again square). Square, square, square. Of course Facebook also just bought the most square photo site of all Instagram.

I’m not a designer, but personally I think this page looks GREAT. I can’t believe how far Facebook has come. I remember when I used to bitch at Facebook all of the time because they gave us these microscopic thumbnail sized photos on our pages and that was it — but now we get these gorgeous oversized square photos on our timeline page. We also have a tool to “feature” a photo on Facebook now (just hover over a photo on your timeline and push the star button).

Facebook also now has the absolute best full screen photo view in the business. (click on a photo, click on options when it comes up big, click on enter full screen). From here you can just use your arrow keys to go back and forth through someone’s full screen photos.

Now next Facebook needs to increase the size of the photos in the regular feed. They are still way too small there.

One thing for sure with photos online is that bigger is better. I love that on Google+ the photos keep getting bigger too. The recent redesign there showed us a big bump up in landscape sized photos in our stream. It also came with the introduction of the black bars that people don’t seem to like. I like them for some reason, but I’m weird.

There is one very simple way G+ could improve the photo though and that is to make square photos even BIGGER. If you let a square photo on G+ fill the entire envelope on a post, you’d make the square photo the largest photo of all on G+. This would look great. Look at my Flickr stream here. Notice how the square photos are bigger than the other photos. Smart, smart, smart flickr. Look how much better the square photo looks than the other ones simply because it’s bigger.

Again, bigger is better (just ask Jeff Wall or Richard Serra).

The other thing that I like, besides the square, are photo mosaics. This is my favorite page of my photography that exists on any site, anywhere on the internet. So many photos and with infinite scroll. You know what else is cool? The hover over fave. Hover over any photo on this page and click on that little +1 button (hey thanks for the +1 by the way!) ;)

Flickr’s new justified view is another example of this. Look how cool my favorites on flickr look as a photo mosaic. Flickr also uses this view for the photos from your contacts. Flickr pretty much ripped off Google+’s page design here but that’s ok because Google then ripped off their hover over fave/+1. I love it when photo sharing sites rip each other off and take the best elements of design. Flickr does need to remove the photographer name from their mosaic views though. That looks ugly. They should only show the name if someone hovers over the photo. It looks too much like a watermark the way they are doing it now and we all know how ugly photo watermarks and signatures look on photos. Also Flickr still needs to give us more infinite infinite scroll. Six pages of photos is not enough. Maybe if they bumped it up to 25 pages that might work.

I’d love to see sites do more and more mosaics like this. That’s what I want to see in the future of online photo display — more mosaics and more squares. What about you?

Flickr Could Be a Good Company for Google to Buy

On Friday I started a poll — similar to one I’d done several months back asking a simple question. Where is the best place to share photos? I was frankly surprised to see how well Flickr did, garnering the first place result with 41% of the poll. 2nd place went to Google+ with 36% of the poll. A distant third place went to 500px.

Given their size, both Facebook and Instagram seemed really poorly represented in the poll, garnering 6% and 3% respectively.

I posted the poll to my G+ stream, to my Flickr stream, to Twitter and to my Facebook account. I have lots of followers on all of these sites. The poll is not at all scientific of course and there are a million reasons why it could be horribly flawed, but it got me thinking more about flickr.

A few months after Google+ had launched I penned a dramatic post entitled “Flickr is Dead.” My feeling on Flickr at that time was that it was a sinking ship — a former photo sharing heavyweight who simply refused to innovate no matter what. The site felt poorly managed with an anti-user ethos. It felt like it had been left to it’s own devices by a dying parent company that was simply unaware or didn’t care.

Against an increasingly competitive backdrop of new and old photo sharing options (Google+, Instagram, 500px, SmugMug) it felt like users were jumping ship. Unique users were/are down as measured by compete.com at Flickr. But lately it’s starting to feel a bit like Flickr might be ramping up a bit.

In February Flickr rolled out a refresh to their photos from your contacts page — one of the first significant refreshes the site has had in years. The page still feels a touch clunky (infinite scrolling doesn’t feel quite as infinite as things like Cool Iris — or does any remember Flickrleech from years ago?) but it’s a huge improvement over the old page that was there. You can now see reasonable sized images in an attractive mosaic where they are easy to fave. Flickr should consider taking away the “more photos” paging button for paid Pro accounts who don’t abuse it — that would be a nice distinction to get people to upgrade to Pro. They’ve also rolled out their new page design to users’ favorite photos section as well.

Flickr also seems to be stepping up a bit in the community management area. They’ve set up a very nice new photo meetup board with meetup.com. They held a few successful photowalks on the East Coast and have a big San Francisco photowalk coming up on this Saturday (I’m attending this one myself).

In January Flickr Chief Markus Spiering promised us a renewed Flickr. So far I like what I’m seeing. I think more work still needs to be done (flickr needs circles/buckets, more robust blocking tools, notifications, an improved mobile experience that includes a group thread reader, and lots more) but they seem to be headed in the right direction. I’ve also noticed what feels like a pick up in activity on Flickr. I’ve noticed that the views on my own photos there recently seem to have picked up a bit.

Flickr seems to be doing better with fewer employees as well. At the end of 2010 flickr had 56 staffers. Today, after a couple of rounds of layoffs, Flickr has 41. They lost at least three people in Yahoo’s big restructure last week and they laid off a number of people in their customer service dept earlier this year. Nolan Caudill, a former Flickr staffer, blasted Yahoo after the January layoffs, but more and more I’m of the opinion that those layoffs were a good thing for Flickr, not a bad thing. In many regards Flickr’s customer service folks were some of the most disliked people by actual users. Getting rid of some of the staffers that were making things bad for users could have actually been smart management.

Which brings me to my next point.

Google should buy Flickr.

Now is the time to get this done. Facebook paid $1 billion for Instagram and I actually think that Flickr has far more potential than Instagram. Google’s got a ton of cash. Yahoo is dying. Facebook is Google’s biggest competitor now and Yahoo is officially at patent war with Facebook. As odd as it would be for these two former search foes to come together for a deal, Flickr makes all the sense in the world for Google who could throw some amazing engineering talent and legitimacy to the site.

More than anything else at Google, Google is betting big on Google+ — and for good reason. Google+ provides Google very valuable data that can be used for advertising. Yesterday I was talking with my friend Robert Scoble about the money Facebook paid for Instagram. Robert said that he thought Facebook bought Instagram for so much because they want the data that’s in the photos.

Think about all the data that is in our photos: who you are photographed with in a photo (maybe an algorithm should show you more of these people’s posts), when it was taken, where it was taken, what concerts you go to, what restaurants you eat at, etc.

What about the photos that you favorite or comment on or like? Isn’t this even more data and more signal that you provide? Do I favorite lots of photos of ice cream? Maybe I like ice cream. Do I favorite lots of photos of fashion? Maybe I care about fashion. Do I fave lots of photos of Nascar, or bicycles or surfing, or… you get the idea. By analyzing what is in the photos that we take and post and what we like and favorite, we provide an amazing amount of information about who we are as human beings. What we like. What we might buy if it were advertised towards us.

So what would Google get with Flickr? For starters they would get the largest highly organized library of images in the world with an impecable pedigree and social DNA. Other sites like Facebook may have more photos, but nobody has a library as organized as Flickr’s. For years people have tagged and organized their photos in all kinds of ways. This data around the photos is very valuable for Flickr. It tells us what is inside of a photo without having to resort to image recognition software.

Google would also get alot of potential high profile accounts. President Obama is on Flickr. The Royal Family is on flickr. The Library of Congress is on Flickr. Lots of big institutions, libraries, art museums, etc.

They would also get Flickr’s excellent photo organizational capabilities. This is one area where Flickr shines compared to anyone else. I have almost 1,700 sets on Flickr now. Why do I use Flickr for my sets instead of Google+ or Facebook or other sites? Easy, I can use Jeremy Brooks excellent program SuprSetr to organize my sets by keywords. Imagine if your Flickr stream could just autopost to your Google+ stream in full big size just like Google+. How cool would that be?

Facebook buying Instagram is upping the ante in the photo sharing game. Facebook paid a billion for Instragram. Google is sitting on over $44 billion in cash. The entire company Yahoo is only valued at $17 billion. Of that, most of the value is related to the positions that they own in Yahoo Japan and Alibaba.

If Instagram is worth a billion, Flickr is worth more. By selling Flickr to Google, this would allow Yahoo to unlock some value for shareholders with an asset that likely contributes very little to Yahoo’s bottom line.

You can follow me on Flickr here.

Guy Kawasaki’s New Book, What the Plus!: “Google+ is to Facebook and Twitter what Macintosh is to Windows”

What the Plus“From my perspective, Google+ is to Facebook and Twitter what Macintosh is to Windows: Better, but fewer people use it, and the pundits prophesy that it will fail. As a lover of great products, this rankles my soul.

I hate when people don’t use the best tool. Sometimes people don’t know that a better tool exists. Sometimes they know it exists but not that it’s better. Sometimes they try the better tool, but the tool doesn’t stick for them.

The year 1987 was the last time I wrote a book about a product (The Macintosh Way). After using Google+ for a few months, I felt the need to write another product-oriented book. This book explains “what the plus” makes Google+ as special as Macintosh.”

– Guy Kawasaki

Spent some time yesterday going through Guy Kawasaki’s excellent new book “What the Plus! Google+ for the Rest of Us.” This book is probably the most comprehensive book I’ve seen so far on Google+. It’s chock full of really great advice on the various best practices that users should consider as they navigate the site. It’s written in an easy to comprehend and familiar way that I think will be especially helpful for newcommers.

The book is 137 pages long and is full of great screenshots that show examples of how Guy and other successful users have navigated and understood the site. It’s pretty cheap as an eBook at only $2.99. It covers not just the technical “how to” material around posting, photography, hangouts, circles, etc., but it also covers a lot of the etiquette on how the community uses Google+ and helpful tips to make your experience on Google+ as fulfilling as it can be.

Most of you know Guy of course as the the former Chief Apple Evangelist. From this perspective I thought it was interesting in the book that he made the comparison above that Google+ is the Mac.

I feel the same way as Guy does. It’s hard to describe why Google+ feels like a better product to me. I know Facebook is improving more these days than ever before and trying to get better and better, but for me it’s so many of the little things (like the little things that make me like my Mac more than the PC). For example, on Facebook I have to press option-return to get a new paragraph (grrrrr… that just bums me out every time I have to do that) it’s a wonky workaround to have to use in order to do something that you want.

Google+ flows better, feels better, etc. Google+ is by no means complete, but I find it an easier place to have a conversation than Twitter where I seem to be running around trying to load new pages to get what anyone is talking about when they @thomashawk me a lot of the time.

Anyways, check it out. It’s a great read and an especially great thing for you to send to someone who isn’t on Google+ but who you know would be someone who would love it once they make the switch. Sometimes making a switch is hard. I was a PC user for years before I finally broke down in August of 2006 and bought a Mac. It was one of the best things I ever did. I needed a push though. This book may be just the sort of guidebook that you could give to a friend of yours who needs that push as well.

Google Plus One Collection on Bay Area NBC Last Night

The Plus One Collection

The Plus One Collection

Wow! I just heard from my good Pal Ivan Makarov that the Plus One Collection sold almost 100 copies in the first day of taking orders. That’s pretty impressive for a $200 limited edition book. I think the book probably got a nice boost when Google Social Chief Vic Gundotra himself posted about it and bought a book yesterday.

What is the Plus One Collection? Well 520 photographers got together on Google+ to create a collaborative book for charity (so far we’ve raised over $5,000 for Kiva). These are some of the very best photographers on the site and each submitted their best photo of 2011. A panel of 11 editors (I was one of these) using blind ratings then edited this down to 193 single page photographs (all 520 will be in the ebook but only 193 would work in the print book).

There are two editions of the book being offered for sale. A numbered limited edition 11×13 fine art book, printed on fine art paper, including tipped-in print, made to museum standards, available for only 9 more days — and another less expensive book that will follow fulfilled through Blurb after the limited edition sale. Each limited edition book also comes with a print from the book and a certificate of authenticity.

All of the work on this book was done by photographer volunteers on Google+. Ivan probably did the most work of all, but so many others in the community helped as well. Especially notable was the amazing design work on the book that photographer Andy Lee did. Ingo Meckmann designed the great website for the book.

100% of all net proceeds go to Kiva.

I’ve loved seeing this project come together as photographers from all over the world have contributed (literally only 65% of the photographers are from the US/Canada, the rest are from all over the world including Europe, Asia and as far away as Oceania!). The book shares a love for photography and fine art along with a way that we have been able to give back to the world that we all find beauty in and photograph every day. Thanks to everyone who bought a limited edition book yesterday, the price is steep but I think you’ll be proud to own a highly collectible edition of some of the best photography from 2011 while helping to support a very worthwhile cause.

Facebook Rolls Out New Lightbox View

Facebook's New Lightbox View
Facebook’s New Lightbox View

Google+ Lightbox View
Google+’s Lightbox View

Today for the first time I noticed that Facebook has rolled out a new lightbox view for photos. There were rumors of a new Facebook Lightbox view coming already out in the wild, but this was the first time that I saw it myself.

At first blush it looks like quite a bit of it was copied from inspired by Google Photos. Remember Vincent Mo, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. ;)

The biggest change is that that comments on Facebook photos have been moved over to the right. Also it’s interesting to me that they seem to have dropped adverts on photos that have enough comments to require scrolling. This probably makes sense as it’s a way to reward high value (i.e. highly commented) photos on Facebook and below the fold adverts (where the adverts go under the comments) probably wouldn’t fetch as much as above the fold adverts anyways.

Also now, when you hover over the photo it gives you the opportunity to “like” or “tag” the photo. This is in addition to the options already to like and tag the photo that are to the right of the photo and always showing. Facebook really must want to drive “likes” and “tags” to their photos, which does actually make a lot of sense as increasing social activity on photos will drive engagement.

Simply clicking off the photo to the empty space around the photo or pressing the escape key will bring you back to the regular page you came from.

Personally I like the new lightbox view by Facebook. It’s better than the old Facebook lightbox. It’s still not as good as Google+’s which still has a larger photo — but along with the new much larger photo thumbnails in the timeline view, it’s a step in the right direction. It also tells me that Facebook has probably noticed the success that Google+ has had with photographers and is looking to try and find ways to make Facebook more attractive to the photography crowd. Facebook’s photos have come a long way since pre-Google+. Back then photo thumbnails were ensy weeny — the size of a postage stamp.

If I were Facebook I’d still make the lightbox view much larger though (like Google+). When it comes to a photo in lightbox view, bigger is definitely better.

Facebook also still needs to give us a way to crop photos in the Timeline view. Right now the imposed square crop doesn’t always best show your photo and the “resize” feature (press the star above your photo in timeline view) weirdly crops just the top half of the photo. Facebook already does have a cropping tool that you can use for your main cover photo in timeline view, so I’d think (and I hear) that better cropping ought to be coming for timeline photos at some point.

What do you think? Do you like the new Facebook lightbox for photos? And which do you think looks better, Facebook’s or Google+’s? Any other thoughts on today’s new Facebook lightbox design?

Update:

Comments on the new change from Facebook users.

Comments on the new change from Google+ users.

Update: Mike Schroepfer from Facebook comments in the comments below: “Thomas and everyone else – thanks for the feedback.

We experimented with blacking out the entire background. However, we found that may people were confused about how to navigate back from the viewer. The semi-opaque black background tries to strike a balance between having great contrast in the photo and giving people an easy way to click out/get back to FB as they need. Either way I think it is a huge improvement from having a white background.

If you have any other comments or suggestions I’d love to hear them.”