Alicia Eler at ReadWriteWeb reviews the upcoming redesign of flickr, my favorite online photo site. She concludes that flickr needs to be more like Instagram in order to succeed in a world where smartphone cameras outnumber traditional ones.
I don’t agree. As I wrote in a comment to that article, I value flickr because its primary focus is on the images, not the “social.” The groups and contacts are of course critical parts of the experience, but those social components of the service, I think, mostly serve to focus attention back on the pictures. On flickr, I don’t really want to know that much about the other photographers in my contact list or groups. I’m mostly interested in their work.
I want to believe that there’s still a place on the Internet for a service like this (which, by the way, is also one of the few that maintains a large community of paid subscribers like me). Not every network on the Internet needs to be a social network, does it?
The article suggests that flickr needs to provide “a product that’s even more gimmicky fun than Instagram’s tinted filters.” I hope not. It’s true that more people shoot pictures with smartphones than traditional cameras, but that doesn’t mean that all of those people want “gimmicks,” or that smartphone cameras threaten the photo-centric nature of flickr. As most photographers know, a good photographer can create great images with any camera.
(note: the pictures in this post are mine, shot with various smartphones. I’m no André Kertész, but I think they’re not bad)