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Why I don’t think Google+ is ready to succeed Flickr (yet)

December 6, 2011 1 comment

Thomas Hawk has been very vocal in recent months about the supposed superiority of Google+ and why all the professional photographers he knows are moving to the service, and leaving Flickr in droves (see: “Flickr is Dead“). I am not sure I agree, at least on the superiority front. I have been frustrated with Flickr’s lack of innovation in recent years, but the fact remains it has a robust set of tools for management and sharing, and these simply don’t exist yet in Google+.

Thomas’ most recent post on the subject asserts:

Over the past few months the tide has begun shifting even more. Photographers are moving in mass from Flickr to Google+ as their primary photo sharing network.

Just like the social crowd moved from Webshots and Fotolog to Flickr a number of years ago, the social photography crowd is now moving from Flickr to Google+.

This may well be true, but I don’t find Google+ any more compelling for photo sharing than I did several months ago when first trying it. I summed this up in a comment on Thomas’ post:

I am a bit late to the party here, but I am perplexed at Thomas’ incessant promotion of Google+ as a superior photo service to Flickr. I will grant that engagement on a photo-by-photo basis seems to be higher, and that more innovations may be coming from Google+ than from Flickr (though I would debate this) but there are still some pretty glaring omissions that haven’t been addressed since the last time I looked at switching from Flickr.

I am currently uploading some shots to Google+ that I also uploaded to Flickr, using the Google+ in-browser uploader. (Note I have not tried using Picasa to upload).

I still find it unreal that despite having entered all kinds of information into my IPTC / EXIF tags of my exported images in Lightroom, most of these don’t get preserved when uploading to Google+. Why do I need to enter a caption again when I have already set this in Lightroom? Why can’t I look at more than a few cursory lines of EXIF information in the photo details page? How come I can’t set Creative Commons options? And why can’t I have the option to upload a scaled-down, web-sized version of my shots instead of having to suffer through painfully-slow (from the UK) full-resolution uploads?

And once the photos are up – can I browse by tag? No. Can I automatically reorder my photos by capture time if I add more shots to an album? No. Can I see a map of my photos within Google+? Astoundingly, no.

Most infuriatingly, is there an easy way for me to generate embed code to share a photo inside my own blog posts? No.

All of the limitations above also limit the ability of others to discover my photos and socialise them.

I am just as annoyed as anyone with Flickr’s stagnation and worry about its future. But, Mr Hawk, I think for you to say that Google+ is currently a superior photo sharing or discovery service stretches the bounds of credulity.

Until Google+ can address some of the shortcomings I see above, I can imagine a lot of photographers will hang fire on completely ditching Flickr. That day may come, but it isn’t here yet.

As a postscript, I do wonder whether Thomas’ experience with Google+ is coloured by his prominence as a photographer / social networker – in other words, his experience and engagement with Google+ has never been less than amazing because he came to the party with an existing mass of followers? For me, as someone with rather less popularity, the supposed benefits of the social experience on Google+ do not outweigh the lack of basic functionality…

Mortal Coil Blog affected by attack on Posterous


Overnight, the Mortal Coil Blog, like every other site on Posterous, was the victim of a massive Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attack against Posterous, the service which hosts this blog. The attack is continuing, but Posterous responded by changing its IP address to a different subnet and I had to follow suit by changing my DNS records as well. Which is pretty easy to do in real life, but not something I was expecting to have to do based on a hacker attack. 

For more on the attack see the Official Posterous Blog post here