The following is a transcript of the talk I delivered at TEDxGlasgow earlier this month. The event was filmed, and I’ll follow up with the clip once it’s available.
In January this year, Google announced that YouTube had passed a significant milestone; 60 hours of video are now uploaded to the platform every single minute. That’s one hour of new content for every second that passes in the real world.
That’s truly incredible. If you wanted to catch up with everything uploaded over a ten minute period, you’d have to watch YouTube 24 hours a day for 25 days.
In that same minute, 140,000 photos are uploaded to Facebook – 200 million a day. Couple that with the fact there are now more than two and a half billion camera phones in use around the world, and you realise our ability to collectively create and store visually rich content has become immense. And it’s only widening.
“Our ability to collectively create and store visually rich content has become immense
I’d argue the majority of this content arrives on the internet to be shared in the here and now – we don’t expect it to last. But by sharing it in the present moment we’re creating, almost unwittingly, the biggest visual archive humankind has ever known.
We made a decision yesterday to stop people pinning Blipfoto content on Pinterest. You can read the official blog post here, but the crux of our concerns were every time a Blipfoto entry was pinned, Pinterest took a full-size, unaltered copy of the photo and stored it on their own servers. That means:
- Our users’ content is being duplicated and stored elsewhere without their permission
- There’s little or no inbound benefit for Blipfoto or its contrbutors because, unlike a link posted to Facebook or Twitter, Pinterest users don’t need to click through to Blipfoto to see the full image – it’s already there on Pinterest
Something we didn’t touch on in the blog post, is the method by which we’ve put that block in place. We’ve used a small piece of code provided by Pinterest that anyone who doesn’t want their content to be pinned can add to their website.
For some websites or businesses, Pinterest can be an amazing way of spreading interest in a product, and building sales. But for the rest of us, who aren’t trying to sell the things we picture on our websites, this approach is completely and utterly back-to-front.
Copyright exists to protect the rights of those who create content without them having to do anything. If I take a photograph, it’s my intellectual property. Full stop. I don’t need to do anything to establish ownership. If anyone else wants to do something with it, they need my permission. Simple.
So the solution to Pinterest’s apparently growing problem shouldn’t be to give people a way to opt-out their stuff being taken or dealing with stuff that’s been taken after the fact, they should stop taking people’s stuff unless they expressly opt-in.
But of course, that’s a much harder way to build a business.
I kicked off with a potted history of Blipfoto, then focussed in detail on some of the things I’ve already written about in this Blog – my thoughts around value vs. values, and the unique ways Blipfoto brings social networking away from social media and back into the real world. You can browse my slides and notes below, view through Google Docs, or download a PDF.
To support what I wanted to say, I put an open call out to the Blip community inviting anyone who felt being a part of it had had a noticeable impact on their life to send me a short video clip talking about their experiences. As ever, I was swamped with amazing material and put together this short sequence of the most pertinent bits.
The last point made is, to me, possibly the most profound aspect of publishing a photograph every day. She’s a Blipper who goes by the name of amErica and talks about her journal being the thing she plans to leave behind when she’s gone, “…because we have no children to leave our legacy to, I blip.”
I spoke in my presentation about the transient, ‘present moment’ nature of Facebook & Twitter. For most users, the experience and relationship doesn’t build in value over time; it’s about getting a quick reaction to something you’ve said or shared. A Blipfoto journal gives the same instant reaction but, because it’s such a considered exercise for most contributors, you also end up with a very coherent and concise record of your life.
In fact, I think I’ve just decided I want a way for visitors to browse my journal at my graveside. How cool would that be?
I’ve just stumbled across this open letter from Thomas Monopoly to Google, complaining that they have – for reasons unexplained – eradicated his entire account, and with it seven years of email, contacts, blog posts, photographs, files and bookmarks. Despite his best efforts, Thomas hasn’t been able to make contact with anyone at Google who can give him a reason for the account closure or tell him if it can be reactivated.
I really do feel for Thomas – losing that much of your stuff for any reason sucks. But at the risk of flying against the furious wind of anti-Googlery building up on the back of Thomas’ letter, I’d like to make a bold statement:
This is not bad customer service on Google’s part
Why? Because Thomas is not the customer, he is the commodity. The commodity sold to the actual customers who pay Google to advertise their products at Thomas based on the contents of his searching, email, contacts, blog posts, photographs, files and bookmarks. I’d hazard a guess they get great service.
I don’t think there’s anything evil about that – it’s a sound and widely-used business model. But we should be much more aware of it when we’re entrusting the most personal and important bits of our lives to that sort of business.
Like all of us, Thomas gets what he pays for. And aside from the cost of a domain name and an upgrade to his storage space, he’s paid nothing to use Google’s tools. Should his service expectations be anything other than in line with that? I don’t think so.
More on this sort of thing here.
I didn’t want to fill this blog with links to other things, but I think I’ll make an exception when I find a blog post I wish I’d written myself. Like this: If your website’s full of assholes, it’s your fault by Anil Dash. I couldn’t agree more with what he says.
I’ve always likened our behaviour online to the way we act behind the wheel of a car. From the perceived safety of our personal transportation bubble, we’ll happily throw the most vile insults at our fellow motorists – words most of us would never use face to face. The web has the same ability to bring out the worst in us, so any online space with a community needs to think very carefully about the methods it puts in place to manage that behaviour. Anil covers these perfectly.
The only thing I’d add is the importance of making a big effort when your community’s still small. The more firmly you can instil the culture you want early on, the less you’ll have to do when things get bigger.
My first post when I started this blog was going to be something about geeks inheriting the Earth through online social networking. I was going to argue their high degree of social awkwardness had given them the ability (mostly through need) to reverse-engineer social interaction in the real world, thus perfectly qualifying them to design and code the places humans socialise online.
I consider myself a large percentage geek (with a spectrum score I’ll be keeping to myself, thanks very much) but the non-geek part of me probably thought better of posting such sweeping – and probably offensive – generalisations.
I found a link to this video on Daring Fireball yesterday – Steve Jobs’ first keynote at the Apple WWDC after being brought back into the fold in 1997. He’d yet to take over as CEO but his vision for Apple is clear, and it’s astounding how much of what he talks about he’s made happen since.
Whatever you think of Apple, it’s an object lesson in all the things I wrote about here, with 14 years of history to back it up. Well worth a watch.
I read a few years ago that ‘free’ had overtaken ‘sex’ as the most searched-for term on the web. I don’t know how much truth there was in the story, but it’s certainly true the prevailing view is that stuff online should be free – an attitude which has found its way into the very core of some of the world’s biggest businesses.
Of course, there’s no such thing as a free ride. While we’re not digging into our wallets, the free services we use are digging into our online lives, farming and selling as much intelligence about us as they can. Google knows what we search for, what we say to each other in email, and how we use the zillions of websites who’ve plugged in Analytics. Their value is in that vast knowledge and their revenue in its sale to advertisers – the deeper the data, the more surgical the marketing strike and the higher the premium. Facebook’s based on the same principle; the more we tell our friends about ourselves, the more Facebook knows about our preferences, and the higher its share price becomes. » Read the rest of this entry «