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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
kayili! (kayo) Tue 2 May 06 14:47
Oh, I'll add: http://www.fotolog.com/kayo
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/
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?
kayili! (kayo) Wed 3 May 06 07:55
Do take a look at it, bumbaugh! I'll be back later.
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Wed 3 May 06 12:03
(Note: offsite readers with comments or questions may send them to <email@example.com> to have them added to the conversation)
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.)
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?
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.
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.
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!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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