[I’m CEO of Zooomr]
In less than 48 hours, two very large anti-video groups on Flickr have gained quite a bit of traction and momentum. We Say NO to Videos on Flickr now has over 23,000 members and No Video on Flickr now has almost 10,000 members.
Now is probably as good a time as any to give my own opinion on the whole video on Flickr thing.
Personally I’m not a big fan of the new video service on Flickr. But then again I’m not a huge fan of 90 second video clips in general either. I rarely use YouTube or other video services. I do have a video up on Vimeo but it’s over 90 seconds.
I think a lot of how I view video on Flickr comes down to how I view Flickr though. I view Flickr as sort of a new world online fine art gallery or museum. I believe that Flickr represents a democratization of fine art photography and a way for new and emerging artists to show their work.
This of course is not how most people who use Flickr view Flickr though. Where a handful of fine art photographers view this as one of the most important functions of the site, others view the site as simply a place to host their photos.
Most Flickr users in fact have no aspirations to be fine art photographers. Sure, they are pleased when their sunset shot gets 5 faves and a little attention, but for the most part most people on Flickr are there to simply share photos, good, bad or indifferent.
The problem is that there are a *ton* of really bad photographs on Flickr. I mean really really really bad photos. As much as the site has become a place where people show their fine art photography it has also been flooded with mediocre photography.
For the person who wants to use Flickr as a place to show and appreciate fine art photography the constant struggle is to wade through all the crap to find the good stuff. And when you find the good stuff, it’s oftentimes very, very good.
Now I believe that good original artistic fine art video is much more difficult to produce than good original fine art photography. That said, what video on Flickr means is that users who are focused on fine art photography will have to wade through that much more crap on the site.
Now on the one hand, so what, big deal. What’s the problem with having to see a bunch of crap video everywhere you go? Just don’t click on it and ignore it — same thing you’ve been doing with the crap photography. But it’s still clutter and I think clutter pulls down the overall clean feel of the Flickr site for many users.
Now, on the other hand, I do recognize that maybe I’m just taking the attitude of the grumpy old man here. Certainly there was resistance to digital photography when it first began to supplant film photography. Maybe rather than oppose video, I should embrace it. Maybe I’d be surprised by the quality of work I’d find. But I’m just not there yet. And maybe I’m not there because to watch a 90 second bad video involves a much greater commitment of time and energy to try and find the truly artistic fine art stuff than simply looking at a page of thumbnails of photos and deciding which ones I’m going to click on and view.
I watched a couple of videos on Flickr yesterday. I’m not going to say whose they were but they were definitely crap. Boring to no end. And my concern is that all this boring video will continue to deluge the site.
To me, the simplest answer is for Flickr to simply offer filtering technology for the new service. Flickr today gives a user an option to opt out of screenshot imagery, why not give the user the same option to opt out of videos. It seems to me that this would be a small price to pay and a way that they could show the Flickr Community that they do listen to them.
Now I do like video, heck, I work on a video show with Robert Scoble. I think video has it’s place out there. But I’m just not sure the place for it for me is Flickr. And mostly when I’m watching video I have no aspirations that I’ll be watching fine art. If I had the option I’d choose to opt out of video on Flickr. But I can’t opt out of video on Flickr today, and that’s the biggest part of the problem.
Empower user choice and you empower your user.