inkwell.vue.272 : fotolog.book and the fotolog phenomenon
permalink #0 of 72: virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Tue 2 May 06 07:21
    
We welcome now a collection of digital photographers, fotolog users, and the
editor of a collection of images from fotolog, fotolog.book.
  
inkwell.vue.272 : fotolog.book and the fotolog phenomenon
permalink #1 of 72: virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Tue 2 May 06 07:22
    
Andrew Long is one of the editors of fotolog.book. He was a photography
reviewer and editor at The New Yorker for many years. His writings have also
been published in Departures, Art & Antiques, and Salon.

I'll let others introduce themselves as they tumble into the conversation.

Welcome, all and sundry!

Whoever gets to this one first is welcome to help me out: what's fotolog?
Who uses it?
  
inkwell.vue.272 : fotolog.book and the fotolog phenomenon
permalink #2 of 72: Johanna Neurath (johannaneurath) Tue 2 May 06 12:38
    
Hi I'm Johanna. A "Fotologger" myself - I run the design department at
an art book publishers. Andrew and I put the book together with the
help of a few other Fotologgers. Thames & Hudson where I work,
published the book - which we hope captures some of the spirit of the
Fotolog website.

My definition of Fotolog.com: a huge photosharing website where
millions of users upload their digital photos each day. As a collective
whole the site is like a giant visual diary - a global picture of
right here right now. Right here might be in Iceland, it might be in
Brazil or Japan. 

Fotolog users are from all walks of life, young and old, students,
teachers, kids and grandparents - from doctors to chefs the common bond
is that we all love images! And want to share them.
  
inkwell.vue.272 : fotolog.book and the fotolog phenomenon
permalink #3 of 72: Adam Seifer (cypher-well) Tue 2 May 06 14:23
    
I guess if anyone ought to take a stab at answering the question about
what Fotolog is, it's me, since I'm one of the co-founders and have
been  the CEO up until this week (our new CEO started this week - I've
become the Chief Product Officer).

I think Fotolog is an environment where you have a really good chance
of having someone else, somewhere in the world take a look at your
daily photos and give you some sort of response - some sort of feedback
- some sort of validation.

This is becoming more and more important as people carry small digital
cameras around with them in their daily lives. In the "old days" you'd
break out your film camera for the big event - a birthday or wedding
or vacation - and take a roll of film. And you could always count on
your Mom and your best friend looking at your pictures. But now, with
people taking a picture here, a picture there of interesting, ephemeral
moments in their daily lives, you can't necessarily count on Mom to
enjoy your photos of the grafiti in the subway. 

And so Fotolog becomes this new way of getting validation and making
sure your photos don't just gather dust on your hard-drive - which is
totally unsatisfying.

The validation usually comes in the form of a guestbook message that
someone can leave below your photo, although it can also occur when
someone adds you to their Friends/Favorites list.

People are encouraged to explore the Fotolog community by visiting the
Fotolog of someone they know, and then following the thumbnail photos
of that person's Friends/Favorite to a world of new Fotologs. You end
up browsing through social networks and serendipitously discover great
new photos and great new people.
  
inkwell.vue.272 : fotolog.book and the fotolog phenomenon
permalink #4 of 72: cypher (cypher-well) Tue 2 May 06 14:28
    
...deep breath...

And, it's resulted in this unusually vibrant and international
community that shares 330,000 new photos every day and has left each
other over a billion guestbook messages.

To me, the Fotolog book is so interesting because it doesn't just
compile the best photos from the Fotolog community (which, in and of
itself would be a worthy project - there are so many great photos) --
it also includes the most interesting guestbook messages from the
community. The book really lets you see how photo-sharing can inspire
so much other meaningful communication among both friends and strangers
from around the word.
  
inkwell.vue.272 : fotolog.book and the fotolog phenomenon
permalink #5 of 72: kayili! (kayo) Tue 2 May 06 14:45
    
Hi fotolog people, I'm a long time WELL user and I discovered fotolog 
early on, thanks to a mention by jenbee here on the WELL. I bought a 
digital camera the day before I went on a trip to China, and a hobby was 
born. The thing I liked about fotolog was, well, it was easy. I didn't 
have to set up a web page, I just had to sign up and upload a picture and 
voila. Back in those days I don't think there were even a thousand users.

I love following the phototrails from one user/friend/favorite to another. 
I love to look at things, popping around on fotolog is sheer visual 
gluttony. 

I haven't read any of the essays in the fotolog book yet -- just got mine 
this weekend -- but I am impressed with the organization and the fantastic 
quality of the photos. I was skeptical of seeing fotolog in a book form 
since I am all about the deluge, baby. But this works really very well. 
Kudos to all. 
  
inkwell.vue.272 : fotolog.book and the fotolog phenomenon
permalink #6 of 72: kayili! (kayo) Tue 2 May 06 14:47
    
Oh, I'll add:
http://www.fotolog.com/kayo
  
inkwell.vue.272 : fotolog.book and the fotolog phenomenon
permalink #7 of 72: art siegel (arto) Tue 2 May 06 17:07
    

Thanks, Johanna and Adam.. for the site, for the book, and I'm happy to be a
part of both.  As Kay says, the interface is the key to the fotolog
experience.  And as Adam points out, the unprecedented power of the site to
let photographers publish their work to a worldwide audience is part of its
great attraction.  If you have people who like your work and have put you on
their friends list, that photo that might have remained in your shoebox can
more or less be instantly published to all of their fotolog pages.

The average gold camera (paying) subscriber has 341 such connections, so you
can publsh to a large number of places at once, and get attention and
feedback on your work.

I'm at http://www.fotolog.com/arto/
  
inkwell.vue.272 : fotolog.book and the fotolog phenomenon
permalink #8 of 72: virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Wed 3 May 06 05:03
    
Welcome, all of you -- and congrats on making it to the transition point in
the company. I have to admit to having as yet almost no experience with the
book or with the fotolog community. So, I get it in the abstract, but have
nothing concrete to go by.

A long way of saying, "pardon my dumb and naive question, but ..."

What does it mean to have "341 connections"? What's a "phototrail"? How do
users typically discover photos of interest? Does the site impose topical or
geographic organization on the photos, or does it work by folksonomy, or
what?
  
inkwell.vue.272 : fotolog.book and the fotolog phenomenon
permalink #9 of 72: kayili! (kayo) Wed 3 May 06 07:55
    
Do take a look at it, bumbaugh! I'll be back later. 
  
inkwell.vue.272 : fotolog.book and the fotolog phenomenon
permalink #10 of 72: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Wed 3 May 06 12:03
    

(Note: offsite readers with comments or questions may send them to
<inkwell@well.com> to have them added to the conversation)
  
inkwell.vue.272 : fotolog.book and the fotolog phenomenon
permalink #11 of 72: prunella (cmbegle) Wed 3 May 06 12:15
    

Hi, Johanna and Adam!

Johanna, I think the book is lovely.  I didn't know what to expect, but
I think it turned out great.  The photos look terrific, and I loved that
you added quotes that people left.  A lot of those made me laugh.  It was 
fun to go through, and I thought gave a sense of what Fotolog is like.  
Also it was fun to see a lot of familiar names, and many photos that had 
stuck with me.  My feeling was that it was like a fotolog yearbook -- like, 
I want to find the Hoyumpas and have them sign the page where their photo is!

I was only disappointed that the "nice waffles" picture was not there!  I 
thought that was very fotolog!

Thank you for putting Miss Prunella on the cover!  
  
inkwell.vue.272 : fotolog.book and the fotolog phenomenon
permalink #12 of 72: art siegel (arto) Wed 3 May 06 12:18
    

Bruce, as with all great software interfaces, the site itself is easier to
grok than any explanation, so by all means dip your toe in.  You may end up
experiencing what someone here once dubbed 'fotocrack'.

The trails Kay refers to are the jumps one can make from fotolog (flog) to
flog, by clicking on the thumbnail photos that appear on the right hand side
of each flog.  That's your key to discovering photographers of talent and
interest to you, and you can then subscribe to their work by adding them as
your own friend/favorite.  There is no imposed tagging, it's a matter of
personal choice who ends up on these friends/favorites lists.

There are, however, many group flogs which are devoted to particular
subjects.  One that I run, for example, is Baseball
http://www.fotolog.com/baseball

My reference to "341 connections " was to the average number of fotologgers
that designate its paid (gold camera) subscribers as Friends/Favorites on
their own flogs.
  
inkwell.vue.272 : fotolog.book and the fotolog phenomenon
permalink #13 of 72: Gail Williams (gail) Wed 3 May 06 12:20
    

I've been trying to post or blog about the fotolog interface for a while.  
It doesn't use folksonomy, a great feature which has attracted me 
to spend a lot of time at Flickr, to be honest.  However, the 
feature Art describes is something many sites -- including Flickr --
never figured out.  

The wonderfully simple fotolog design puts pictures of your contact 
next to your recent photo.  It's as if when you look at a picture 
you always see it as part of a current gallery of that person's 
contacts.  If you look at their pictures, you find new favorite 
images without any extra clicks, and you can add them to
your own contacts. 

Quite a few knock-off sites have tried to follow this design pattern,
which in my view is the reason fotolog grew so quickly.  The downside,
perhaps, was that it is also irresistable for vanity self portraits and
"cam girl" images, and there has been a tension between different ways of
using the social tools in a unified social space.  However, floggers have
figured out how to navigate socially and deal with the conflicting goals,
just the way people in a big city can live and let live with differing
neighborhoods and communities.  Or so it seems to me.      
  
inkwell.vue.272 : fotolog.book and the fotolog phenomenon
permalink #14 of 72: Gail Williams (gail) Wed 3 May 06 12:22
    
Slippage -- people finishing their posts while I was still typing and taking
a phone call here.  Prunella on the cover is a hugely cool thing!

Christine, can you give a link to the image that is used on the cover?
  
inkwell.vue.272 : fotolog.book and the fotolog phenomenon
permalink #15 of 72: virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Wed 3 May 06 12:24
    
great . . . like I need another form of online crack.

(Off to look for myself.)
  
inkwell.vue.272 : fotolog.book and the fotolog phenomenon
permalink #16 of 72: prunella (cmbegle) Wed 3 May 06 12:30
    


sure!

http://www.fotolog.com/prunella/?pid=78088

I do not know that everyone really adjusted to the influx of webcam people,
or to the size of fotolog in general.  I think I was more subject to its
fotocrack charms when it was smaller. 

I'm on flickr now, and the same is true. I used to look at more people's 
photos before it became huge.  (When I first started going there, it was
small enough that I could look at all photos tagged with 'dog' in a day.
Not so much anymore!)

I did love the randomness of fotolog - just navigating by clicking pretty
things on other people's friends/favorites lists.  That was fun when I 
was heavily into the fotocrack.

Was bsamp in the book?  Remember how he used to do those cool collages
taking advantage the main photo and the recent photos column?
  
inkwell.vue.272 : fotolog.book and the fotolog phenomenon
permalink #17 of 72: kayili! (kayo) Wed 3 May 06 12:48
    
I think the friends and favorites on fotolog is a huge factor that 
distinguishes it from flickr, where your personal contacts do not show up 
on your own photo page. Um, I also think it's a factor that made fotolog 
more of a myspace kind of place. I also jumped ship for flickr, and that 
is because flickr offers me something that I can't get on fotolog: an 
album of my favorites of other peoples' pictures. I am not so interested 
in the accumulation of "friendly" accounts, really what I love most is 
being able to return to specific photos. I assume there are non-fotolog 
related tools for making a list of favorite photos, but it is not the same 
thing as having a slideshow right there.


Still, fotolog got me hooked and I will always love it for that.
  
inkwell.vue.272 : fotolog.book and the fotolog phenomenon
permalink #18 of 72: virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Wed 3 May 06 13:08
    
Okay, just a toe dipped in so far, but WOW.

The crack aspect: One of the big things about surfing the Web is being
driven to click, click, click on the assumption that the grass is greener on
the other side of the hyperlink -- for all you know, there could be
something really amazing there if you only just CLICK. On fotolog, you're
actually tempted with free tastes, by way of the thumbnails in the trails.
It's gotta be dangerous to sit down for "just a quick look before turning in
for the night."

in just a few minutes on the site, sooo many really great images. And such a
diversity of them.

Again: WOW.
  
inkwell.vue.272 : fotolog.book and the fotolog phenomenon
permalink #19 of 72: Gail Williams (gail) Wed 3 May 06 13:08
    
bsamp is such a creative fellow.  He started this "dreaming" meme of reverse
images once and got many people posting photos upside down.  I was
astonished at how much it improved my ability to crop and compose
intelligently, and it was so much fun watching upside down images blossom in
the sidebar!
  
inkwell.vue.272 : fotolog.book and the fotolog phenomenon
permalink #20 of 72: It's all done with mirrors... (kafclown) Wed 3 May 06 14:43
    
I'm a former fotologer (although I still have an account) and I switched 
to flickr.  I was not a gold account there, and I'm not a PRO account on 
flickr.  (and I think I have a fotothing account too, if they are still 
around)

What I liked about fotolog was the community.  I also liked to see other 
cool photos by serendipity.  What I hated (and what made me leave) was the 
unusability.  It got very unstable for a very long time, and I stopped 
feeling like I was going to be able to post a photo, and see it show up) 
 And the constant promises that it would be fixed, followed by more 
problems.  I decided to vote with my feet.

You grew so quickly-- did you ever get to monetize the Brazilians?  
  
inkwell.vue.272 : fotolog.book and the fotolog phenomenon
permalink #21 of 72: art siegel (arto) Wed 3 May 06 15:17
    

The usablity was extremely poor for a number of months,  just at the time
that Flickr was offering free Pro accounts, unfortunately.  The site has
worked well for quite some time now, however.


I think that bsamp figures in the "
Dialogue" chapter of the fotolog book, where the art of responding to, or
riffing off of, others' photos is explored.  My favorite chapter in the
book, apart, of course, from the San Francisco chapter, where my stuff and
kayo's and gail's is to be found.
  
inkwell.vue.272 : fotolog.book and the fotolog phenomenon
permalink #22 of 72: Johanna Neurath (johannaneurath) Wed 3 May 06 15:29
    
Evening everyone! Hi Arto - yes "Dialog" is one of my favorite
chapters too - I'll try and... find a link so people can follow a
photo-trail from one Fotolog to another... For me this is one of the
most brilliant things about Fotolog... the ability to have a visual
conversation.

And referring back to an earlier comment: Foto-crack... yes that put's
it so well. 

I clicked a link one day in 2003... Can't remember where... and
tumbled into this wonderful world of images, taken and published for no
reason other than pleasure or personal expression. I signed up
instantly, absolutely NO hesitation...

A month later I was totally hooked, six months later I felt I almost
knew the inner workings of my virtual photofriends better than some of
my real life friends who I have known for years. You know, words can
kind of get in the way sometimes....  An image speaks to you at another
level - and there are no language barriers! Important in such a global
community.

What I also found so addictive was of course the imagery. I look at a
LOT of pictures in my daily work, some by the so called  'greatest'
photographers. Which I love of course. But go to Fotolog and if you
know where to look and if you know what you like you can find real
visual refreshment - I guess because these images have nothing to prove
apart from the fact that the person who took delight in them or finds
them funny or interesting.

I think I truly fell in love with Fotolog the day I clicked on a
picture and there in glowing colour was a random pattern made by some
guys toe-nail clippings on a dark red carpet illuminated by sunlight
coming in from the left of the frame! :D

Sounds gross but it was a beautiful image I promise you... Sadly I
never found that image again... but I tell you it left a huge
impression. If anyone finds it please let me know! It changed the way I
look at the world forever.
  
inkwell.vue.272 : fotolog.book and the fotolog phenomenon
permalink #23 of 72: Don Mussell (dmsml) Thu 4 May 06 00:38
    
I joined fotolog in September of 2003. I had bought my first digital
camera in June of that year, and was looking for an easy way to share
photos with family and friends. It was quiet back then.
    I started using fotothing a while later, found it to be a bit
nicer for hi-rez photo display. I added flickr recently, just for
family photos. The interface for fotolog does not work for my brother,
who is still using an old version of Netscape, so he can't see any
photos on fotolog, which is kind of ironic. He can view the other two I
post to. Can't get him to upgrade, so that is the way it is.

I never thought I would enjoy posting photos as much as I do. Then
again, it's an easy way to share. And find out where I am at any given
time.
  
inkwell.vue.272 : fotolog.book and the fotolog phenomenon
permalink #24 of 72: virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Thu 4 May 06 05:34
    
I hadn't thought about dialog carried on through images. That's a seriously
powerful idea.
  
inkwell.vue.272 : fotolog.book and the fotolog phenomenon
permalink #25 of 72: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Thu 4 May 06 08:13
    

Indeed! I hadn't considered it that way either.

With the global nature of photo-sharing by Web, I wonder if there might
be certain kinds of characteristics to the images people from different 
national/regional groups choose to put online? I mean, are Americans
more likely to post sunsets and Germans more likely post images of
architecture? (I know, I know, that's a simplistic example) Do any of 
the photobloggers here try to guess whether this or that picture was
posted by somebody from Brazil or Bavaria? 
  

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