Flickr connects us globally with pictures

15 Aug
Two cats, Amsterdam shop window

Two cats, Amsterdam shop window

We were just two cats walking through Amsterdam in March — my 11th floor colleague Paul Rutter and I, in town for a web strategy workshop with our European team.  Paul, ever observant, pointed out a real cat, and a virtually identical paper mache cat, sitting in a shop window together on a Sunday afternoon. Too amazing, it was unposed: the shop was closed. I took a couple of quick snaps and posted to Flickr. Back from the trip, I used the photo in several presentations to explain a concept we were working out. (Interesting images can help keep people engaged, and frame things more intuitively than words alone.)

Yesterday, the artist from Amsterdam who made the cat contacted me on Flickr to ask if she could use the photo for a poster about the shop windows she designs and the art she creates!

Pretty amazing that she would come across the photo: Flickr does geotagging, so that makes it much more possible. But it certainly made me think more about how Flickr connects me to others—even those I don’t know elsewhere in the world—through a shared interest in capturing and sharing the visual richness of the world and our experiences.

I sent the cat’s creator the original image for her poster, and she told me a little bit about her process:

I sat upstairs in a little room above the bakery a whole afternoon with lots of paper bags and tape and, of course, Floortje, the (real) cat.

My use of Flickr has intensified, as it has for many, since I started taking pictures on my  iPhone. I can take shots on impulse, and post quickly, no matter where I am. I had begun using Flickr several years ago, and upgraded to Pro pretty quickly to take advantage of more pictures, sets and collections. But it never quite took me as far as the visionary diagram of Flickr as a social tool that Bryce Glass developed a few years ago. Now that I’m using it more, and connecting with others, I can see the social experience he predicted playing out. It’s fascinating, and fun.

Flickr user model by Bryce Glass

As far as a social tool, I far prefer Flickr to Facebook. The privacy settings seem far more clear, there are fewer hidden loopholes. (Another subject, but does anyone really feel they know what happens to all their information with all the ins and outs of Facebook connections and applications now?) And it’s wonderful to see and share pictures with others, not so dissimilar in some ways from myself, and very different in others, around the world.

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