Blog Post

Flickr as Network and History

My social networks and tools collided today on Flickr. I located a snapshot I thought was lost for good and found some very cool functionality I didn't know existed. How about you? Read on.


You know how the software we use every day has hidden cool stuff it can do? Things we never knew about or forgot? Because we don't use it enough, or we never got the memo? It's all there, but we don't "see" it.

Founded around 2004, Flickr hosts literally billions of photos in addition to my thousand or two. It was one of the first online "social" photo apps with tags and friends. Many professionals use Flickr for storage of (and a CC source for) presentation images. My main account chronicles Virtual World places, avatars, and events. The Second Life group pool has tens of thousands of members who have uploaded hundreds of thousands of images.

This afternoon I recorded the name of an avatar incorrectly in the caption of a few of the Second Life snapshots I uploaded during a Metanomics Forum. The name I used was actually the character in the online comic the guest being interviewed creates: Jenny Elsewhere.  But Jenny is not the name of the avatar doing the interview in the photos below. It is not her real life name either. Got that? Never continue...

When I send snapshots out of Second Life I copy/paste in several email addresses. The photos upload to five sharing sites at once, and a couple of those services forward them to still more. It's standard digital workflow practice these days, but if I mess up a caption I have to hunt it down and fix it in a lot of spots!

My Photostream page (below) has two snapshots from today, the ones I corrected.

As I finished my corrections, I idly wondered when the first of my bleeding edge early adopter EdTech-type friends had joined Flickr. I know that Alan Levine (aka CogDog, CTO of the New Media Consortium) is a huge Flickr user. I spied a tab on his Photostream page that I'd never noticed before.

Archives. Click. A list of upload dates going back to 2004. Of course he joined the first year.

Here is the link on my Photostream page.

Liz Flickr Photostream

What about my Archives? From the list below, each click took me deeper into my virtual history. 

Sounds simple, but look how cool it is. 

The Archive list is organized by year and month, and includes separate links to both "Taken on" and "Posted to Flickr" dates.

The list summarizes how may uploads you made each month. If your digital camera encoded the data, you're all set.

"When did we take that trip?" Flickr knows.

Liz Flickr Archives Page

Some history: Spouse and I attended grad school at Berkeley in the 1970s, and it was amazing when I found the Shattuck Avenue BART station in Second Life back in late 2007.  

I remember that day well. Chimera walked around and found that it matched her memory of the surroundings closely. She used the built-in Second Life Snapshot button (a new skill learned just the week before) to save the scene.

A year or so ago I wanted that snapshot Chimera took to use in a presentation on education in Second Life.

The BART station turns out to be a based on real GIS data, and I met builder Darb Dabney in real life at a conference a couple of years later. In fact, I blogged here on HASTAC about Darb's talk in Second Life earlier this year.

It makes for a great example, but I could not find the photo on any of my computers. 

Meanwhile, back in Flickr...

I clicked on December 2007 on the Archives page and got a very cool calendar page.

The images of my photos are organized by day on the Archives calendar. Note also the condensed summary of all the months and years underneath. I see that lost photo??

Archives - Calendar Month View

Click on the photo on a day on the calendar, and you see the set of photos uploaded on that date.

The first photo in the image below is the BART Station.

The second photo is from Second Life Capitol Hill just after the 2007 Presidential election. I had been looking for that one too. 

The last snapshot is a MacArthur Foundation event that Chimera attended that same month with avatar Jonathan Fanton.

Flickr Archives Dec 21 2007

You click on a photo to get a larger image. I thought I looked pretty cool by that point in Second Life.

Little did I know! Totally Goth, my daughter tells me. With bad hair.

Chimera by Berkeley BART

You don't have to dig through pages and pages of photos. Unless your titles and tags are good, Search can fail.

Archives to the rescue!

Those early events and the social contacts I made with other educators and professionals started my fascinating adventures working in virtual space. My avatar history is now my history. Today I found part of it and learned how to excavate even more with Flickr Archives. Too fun!

My take-away lesson? Social networks and social tools pretty much rock.

I have the same identity on both Twitter and Flickr. It's a combination of my real and virtual names.

Look for @ldinstl_chimera in either place.



1 comment

Great post, Liz!  As usual, your thinking sent me off on a journey....went right to Flick where, with the help of your annotated screen shots, I discovered the "archive" option and the handy "taken on" and "posted to" flicker lists, with the very spif calendar organizer.  Can not believe I'd never noticed these before!  How completely cool, is this??!  I also started playing around with my tags (inspiration to be more thorough about tagging my uploads) and the "popular" option, to discover with delight how many "hits" a few of my photos have gotten (why that one?)...and on and on....another hour spent, wandering the delights and intricacies of what these social networks and tools have to offer.  Thanks!