This post originally appeared on my old free WordPress site, and as we approach 20 years of flickr I thought it was worth re-sharing here.
Flickr was launched on February 10, 2004 by Ludicorp, a Vancouver-based company founded by Stewart Butterfield and Caterina Fake. I stumbled upon it somehow in late 2004. At the time I was a bit over fiddling with my vicnet site and my tripod site
I had at least one blog at the time on blogger. I had a looked at several of the fledgling services on offer at the time. Some are on this list on wikipedia. None of which really appealed to me. Flickr however seemed somehow more ‘edgy’. I signed up, and off I began on a wild journey of discovery. I began with a free account and kept my uploads within the free parameters for a while, but very quickly saw the benefit of a ‘pro’ account.
I was vaguely aware of online communities as I had been online since 1995. And as a voracious reader I was constantly following links all over the shop learning tons on the way. But this was my first ‘community’.
Those first few years on flickr were amazing I got to meet many wonderful local photographers and engage with many international ones too. The Melbourne group in particular was very social and we met quite regularly for a while. We even organised a group exhibition in 2006. It was entitled ‘Web to Wall’ and was held at a gallery called Smith Street Gallery.
One thing that has always struck me was how many of the Melbourne flickr community had an IT background. The late 90s and early 2000s in my memory was a good time for people in that industry. Many were in their 30s and were in demand and paid well. They could afford expensive cameras and computer hardware that was also expensive. Was this a trend across flickr, maybe, it’s hard to tell? But I feel the convergence of high speed internet, new and cheaper digital cameras and lowering costs of software and hardware along with the demographic, augmented the rise of flickr.
The first few years I didn’t really have much of an idea out what I was uploading and why. I had no plan or direction. Eventually I worked things out. More on this in a future post. It is plain to me that I use the service in a very differently to a lot of flickr’s users. And for this reason flickr is still very important to me.
The statistics alone make it worthwhile. My work would only ever have been seen by a small group of people who were able to attend my physical exhibitions.
Also over the years flickr has been part of a subset of research that looked at photography, the web, social media and the networked image. A search on acedemia.edu, for example reveals over 80 thousand results. This also makes the service in my mind completely relevant.