Flickr Video… ugh

Flickr now has video.

Since they launched this feature, I’ve tried to find something to say about it here, but I’ve struggled to find the words for it. Articulating my feelings on the subject is difficult; in large part because there are real, strong feelings to contend with.

Video is not a “long photo” it’s not a “moving picture”, as Flickr described them. It’s an intrinsically and fundamentally different medium, which requires a completely different skill set to produce, as well as different equipment with a much steeper learning curve. It guarantees that it will drag down the average quality of the site, because there just isn’t the same base of “talented amateurs” for videography as there is for photography.

Video, by its very nature, by its very presence, whether one chooses to ignore it or not fundamentally changes the nature of the site. With the flick of a switch, Flickr changed from a place (the place) that photographers of all skill levels came to share and discuss photos and photography, to a place where people who don’t necessarily share any unifying interest come to share “items” (Flickr’s language). A worst case scenario is that video will bring with it the culture of Youtube; a wasteland of copyright violations and immature, idiotic comments.

It wasn’t all that long ago that this was explicitly the focus of the site – illustrations, graphic art, and screenshots were relegated to second class citizen status. They were filtered out of searches and kept off of explore. The message was clear: we can’t stop you from uploading these, but the site is for photos.

That this isn’t the case with video, and that they in fact went out of their way to ensure video would be treated no differently than photos, signals a very fundamental shift in the character of the site. Video took up unknowable man hours to develop, and yet more to maintain. These are development resources that could have been used to develop more photography-oriented features; but from here on out every new feature will have to balance the needs of the video content with the photos.

Most frustrating, perhaps, is the obtuseness of the staff in addressing community objections, at least as indicated by their actions and public comments. It seems unbelievable to me that given the very predictable uproar, they didn’t launch the feature with an ability to filter video out of our Flickr experience. I realize now that such a filter is the best I can hope for, I’ve seen politicians who give more direct answers, especially regarding the question of such a filter.

My pro account expires this coming November. I don’t see any reason not to continue using it until then. But this is the first time since joining the site that the question of whether I’ll renew it is in doubt.


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