Archives & Flickr: Still our favorite for sharing photos, or have we moved on to newer platforms?

Via the brilliant Roger Ebert on Twitter, I just saw this article from Gizmodo: “How Yahoo Killed Flickr and Lost the Internet.” It’s a fascinating read about what happened after Yahoo acquired Flickr. (Warning: it contains quite a few curse words. You have been warned.)

Reading it made me wonder how things are going over at the Flickr Commons. Are there are any participants in that who can comment on whether resources seemed to have been pulled from that service? Is it looking like the future is stable? (Remember, you can comment anonymously if you feel you need to.)

And if Flickr isn’t the cool shiny toy it once was (and it certainly is not), are archives moving to something else to share images? Pinterest is addicting, and I love what the Archives of American Art is doing there, but it doesn’t have all the features of Flickr. Is Flickr still the go-to site for archives to share images, or have we moved on to something else? Facebook, perhaps? Or do you use both?


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10 thoughts on “Archives & Flickr: Still our favorite for sharing photos, or have we moved on to newer platforms?”

  1. I love Pinterest, but it doesn’t seem like it serves quite the same purpose as Flickr. I look at it more as a tool for publicizing images than for uploading and hosting them. Even though yes, you can upload images directly to Pinterest, I prefer not to. One of its strengths is that it gathers images together from a variety of sources, while preserving the link to the original source. For me, Flickr will remain my core tool for simply getting images uploaded and onto the web (I don’t know of a viable replacement as of yet), while Pinterest will serve as my place to organize different media/items/whathaveyou in one place (like used to be, but ohsomuch better).

  2. I’m certainly eager too to get any inkling on the future stability of the platform with regards to GLAM participants. Flickr does have The Commons, and I haven’t seen a resource like that anywhere else, which can give the scanned material the proper space for metadata, comments, annotations, etc.

    That alone seems valuable enough, and with enough stable organizations using it, to hold Flickr up for a good while, but what do I know.

    Certainly for the individual (and especially the individual most interested in sharing) Flickr has been taking a beating from other services.

    And yeah, I still use Delicious. Although if it’s a bookmark I’ll reference often, it may go to Evernote instead.

  3. I don’t see Facebook playing this role, because you have to have a Facebook account in order to really participate in enjoying the photos. For Flickr, you need to have an account to upload (and you need to have a Pro account to do a lot of uploading or to create very many sets, but the price is quite low) but anyone can view and enjoy. I look forward to hearing if others are considering other options.

  4. My institution has been debating whether or not to join Flickr. (I know, we’re about 10 years late). I have yet to see a better delivery method for archival photographs that is openly accesible through open web searching. And I also like the thumbnail display. Texas A&M has a great photostream that has inspired my institution to join Flickr. (See as an example). I really like some photograph delivery systems developed by archives like the University of Pittsburgh’s Historic Pittsburgh site. But when I Google for Forbes Field photographs, Flickr shows up on the second page of Google’s results and Historic Pittsburgh doesn’t show up at all (at least not within the first five pages). So I’ve always said use the best tools that will reach the most people and allow them to interact with the pictures. Flickr seems to be it even after all these years.

    I’ve been unclear on the advantages of joining Flickr Commons vs. standard Flickr. My institution is not legally a public archive, although we’re open to the public. Flickr Commons seems to push publicly-held photograph collections. We’ve debated issues relating to what this means for us, a privately funded archive but open to and serving the public. We almost feel that Flickr Commons is best suited for photographs created by governments and other public entities where they should be open and free to use. But for us and many others who have photo use policies and fees, having photos on Flickr Commons is the classic “lose control” of your collections concern. This of course applies to standard Flickr as well; I’m just trying distinguish between what the Commons means by publicly-held vs. privately held collections.

  5. A follow up post to the above…

    The article about Flickr’s status or decline is something I’ve thought about on a larger scale and what it means for archivists. As we engage with Web 2.0 tools that are fleeting, how do we manage all of our activity using these tools? If Flickr or Facebook is replaced by the “next big thing,” do we as archivists stampede with the Internet public to join them? What about all of the time, effort, and content contributed to now obsolete Flickr/Facebook/Twitter, etc. (hypothetically speaking). Do we still manage these accounts of fading Web 2.0 technologies? At times I hesitate to join the Web 2.0 bandwagon because of these issues. Before you know it, an archivist can find themselves managing 10 different accounts for 10 different Web 2.0 tools which would likely become the archivist’s full time job. The rise and fall of Web 2.0 tools is reflective of the satisfy-me-now world we live.

  6. Given Flickr’s precarious position, I can’t imagine using it today for any serious work. While it’s not a bad service for making collections more discoverable, the fact that it’s on life support should make any institution think twice before using it. As soon as Yahoo decides to pull the plug, that’s it – your exhibits/collections/etc. go with it. Not a good thing for a profession that should be thinking long-term.

    If you want to use Flickr, I’d suggest keeping local backups of images, metadata, arrangement, etc. to ensure that nothing is lost in the inevitable closure (“what was in that cool exhibit we did a few years back?”). But if you’re doing all that, then you may as well just host it locally – you’ll get more life, more control, and won’t put yourself under the sword of Damocles.

  7. It seems much of the criticism is about Flickr not being Facebook (or something else) when perhaps it could have been.

    I certainly don’t store original images on there and simply post copies so if the whole lot disappeared I wouldn’t worry too much. But the fundamental issue is if we use Flickr to make archival collections more open and accessible then if they collapse all our precious time and resources are lost and we have to start again.

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