I just can’t believe I have written the above as today’s blog post title. Really? Flickr? As last refuge? Is it still around? Do people use it? I don’t know about you folks, but I can confirm vast majority of my social networks from over the years don’t. They are nowhere to be seen in there and I suppose, at this point in time, they can’t be bothered with it either. Yet, it’s been the place I have spent a significant amount of time myself over the course of the last couple of years. Main reason why? A escape of sorts.
A escape from both the tyranny of the manipulative algorithm(s) we are plagued with all over the place (even at the workplace!) and today’s ugly reality. In a nutshell, a celebration of the unfiltered beauty we experience on a daily basis, but without intermediaries, showing me / us there is still hope for Web 2.0.
I deleted my Facebook account about 12 years ago. I did pretty much the same with my Instagram handle about 5 years ago. I never warmed up to TikTok and I frankly don’t think I’d ever do. Same would probably be for any other short-form video apps. I have also moved away from Spotify a few months back. I hardly use any of the rather popular messaging & chatting apps plenty of people seem to be obsessively hooked up with (WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal, Discord, etc. etc.). And, at the moment, it seems I am having a bit of a colourful relationship with both Twitter and LinkedIn. So, in a way, it does look like Flickr has become my last refuge in the space of the so-called Web 2.0 social, digital tools.
Ironically, Flickr is my first social (media) tool. I started using Wikis back in 2000 with different communities of practice, and a couple of years later I had my first blog. Fast forward to April 2005, I created my Flickr account and to this day I am using it nowadays more frequently than ever before… 17 years later! Whoaaah! Crazy, huh!?
I love photography. I am not a professional photographer though, more of an aficionado. Yet, Flickr has allowed me to discover the world of both professional and amateur photographers and enjoy every single bit of the beauty they create on a daily basis and which they share graciously with those of us who decide to stop by for a few minutes to marvel and be wowed repeatedly. Those glimpses, those fond memories, those stunning captures, those amicable and inviting conversations that spark a form of escapism for the ugly realities we are exposed to on a daily basis.
If you ask me, a breath of fresh air I try to enjoy to the fullest every single day.
The reason though why I heart Flickr to bits is that back in 2004 it showed us the huge potential behind Web 2.0. An online space where we could enjoy our shared tidbits of ambient intimacy with others through photography. Helping connect the dots, i.e. each and everyone of us, around a topic we were all very passionate about, whether we’d be talking about professional or amateur photographers. Everyone is welcome. You just need to show up and share openly those pearls of beauty that are floating around you with a community of folks who truly care about the subject: you and your passion for photography, regardless of how good you were at it!
All of that happening in the context where you are always in control of your Flickr timeline, of your own networks built up over there throughout the years, of the groups and galleries you are co-curating together with everyone to create amazing slideshows in which everyone has chipped in and showed up accordingly on their terms. No intermediaries, no obscure, private and manipulative algorithms dictating what you should see, or not, based on what they think they know better about you. Yay! No, thanks! Not happening in Flickr, I am afraid. See why it now feels as my / our last refuge of what the Web 2.0 promised us all back in the day? We are still realising it … big time!
As you can see, it all starts to feel like I am back in time to what I used to enjoy and love very much with regards to social, digital tools: a strong sense of community, of belonging, of connection through a common topic we are all passionate about. An opportunity to connect, share and learn with other peers about the stuff that’s in our mind that we feel it is worth while sharing across to contribute into advancing the overall conversations. In this case, about photography.
The crazy thing, for me, is to think we could pretty much have the very same thing, but in a work context. However, we have consciously decided to lure ourselves to walk away from it while we enjoy that lovely selfie about each and everyone of us heading back to work! 🤢 Oh, gosh, what a missed opportunity!
Either way, I am pretty sure we will be talking plenty more about that conscious decision to not wanting to make work better for each and everyone of us and the massive toll we are all paying for it. I was hoping for an opportunity to invest our time, effort and energy in rebuilding a thing of beauty to rejoice, re-engage and re-involve ourselves with back again, but, I guess, we will need to wait for another opportunity at some point in time.
I can wait. I am not in a hurry, frankly. I know it will be happening eventually. Just a matter of time, really. For now, though, I will just keep enjoying Flickr as my last refuge, waiting for a better time, while I muse further along, keep getting constantly reminded of how good we had it with Web 2.0, then Enterprise 2.0, to finish off with Social Business and we let it all slip back into oblivion, because, you know, change is hard. Yes, it surely is, but it is also inevitable, and, with it, to think it can also be a beautiful thing.
And that is the constant reminder I get every day whenever I spend a few minutes in Flickr. Never to be forgotten but to celebrate what it has meant all along for those of us heavily involved in the 2.0 space over the course of the last few years. And still going strong, regardless of what other people may tell you…
Now, you know where else, besides this blog, you can find me. At my last refuge … Flickr!