What I’ve learned from Flickr

It has been over a year that I’ve been a Flickr member. I’ve discovered Flickr thanks to my guru, Merlin. But I would talk about that in another post.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how my Flickr behavior has changed over this year. At first I signed in just to be able to post comments. Then I decided to upload a photo to have a buddy icon. I love buddy icons. I like them so much that I change mine every so often. Sometimes I tell myself I should stick to the same image for my buddy icon, make it my “visual signature”. Alas, I find it more interesting to see how a particular image would fit the 48 x 48 pixel limit than in building a particular persona of myself as expressed by my buddy icon.

Going pro

I still remember the day when I’ve decided to become a pro user: 3 sets was just not enough for me. I wanted more and more. I know that the whole point of tagging is to allow you to find your photos later through a tag search. I’m just an old dog that won’t learn new tricks. Photos are aimed to be put into albums. Sets are my virtual albums, point. Tags are only there to get you views. 😉

Making friends

Now, I remember Merlin linking to this particular post of Matthew Haughey’s blog, on how Flickr friends aren’t really friends. Of my Flickr contacts, only a couple are family members and real-life friends. As for the rest, the only ‘contact’ I’ve ever had with them has been via Flickr.

This stems from two facts: First, I’ve realized my real-life family and friends are technologically challenged and it’s just easier to email them my photos than to explain to them the whole ‘social bookmarking’ concept. Second, I’ve got so entangled into the Flickr sub-culture that it has become my secret garden. There are things I’m ready to share with the Flickr community that I don’t want my family and friends to know. I’m a closet nerd.

Bringing out the narcissist in me

I’ve never thought of myself as a narcissist. I’m rather shy and paranoid, so the thought of posting my photo on the internet for a bunch of strangers to look at was totally out of the question. But Flickr has the power of making you do stuff you never thought you would be capable of. A lot of the photos I post publicly on Flickr are self-portraits. I can understand most of Flickr visitors/members won’t find them particularly attractive, but I love the idea of having somewhere to see photos of myself (especially as I actually get to pick the ones I look good on). It would be just too silly to have an actual photo album of self-portraits. Flickr gives them certain legitimacy in a way. After all, what else are personal pages for?

Getting views

Being basically a paranoid and a narcissist, I’m living a Flickr double-life. I want people to see my photos. Posting publicly a photo you find interesting (for example, ahem, of yourself,) and seeing the ‘Viewed 0 times’ line stay there sempiternally brings back images of those painful high-school times when you were part of the class nerds and hence, unpopular as can be. Once a nerd…

After a continuous trend of 0 views, you can easily get the feeling of being invisible. Many times I’ve came to the conclusion that I could post photos of myself naked and still get 0 views. (Mind you, even I wouldn’t be interested in that sight). As Flickr has taught me, getting views it’s a matter of how you tag your photos. The tag that has got me the most results ever is, not surprisingly, ‘gtd’. Sometimes I wonder if Flickr was developed only to post pictures tagged ‘gtd’.

So, use tags to your advantage, you want to get views, use popular tags. You want to be as invisible as a shadow, don’t tag, use your own, cryptic, meaningful-only- to-you, tags (after all, social bookmarking is a myth, isn’t it? 😉 ) or use the ever so clever function: ‘hide this photo from public searches’. The perfect solution for narcissistic paranoids like me. Be public, but not too much.

Links to Flickr photos

Now, I guess you might wonder why there’s no photo of me to illustrate this post, or a direct link to my Flickr page on my sidebar for that matter. In a way, and as I mentioned earlier, I’m just too shy and paranoid to post my photo here. But most important, I don’t want my potential reader to judge the quality of my blog by my looks. I rather be judged by my poor English and even worst writing skills. I have to preserve my blog integrity 🙂 Well, for those visitors that have arrived here via the links on my Flickr page or the 43folders forum it’s already too late anyway.

Personally, I’ve never got it why people would post links to their Flickr pages on their blogs. I mean, do I really need to see photos of their cats? And yet, one of my Flickr favorite photos is that of the cutest kitten ever. That’s all the beauty of Flickr, you find marvelous things on it.

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