A certain friend of mine (who shall go unnamed) is living in Kenya. I met him today for lunch and was super psyched to hear about his life, but a little vexed to discover that he has 5000 photos he’s sitting on, a Flickr pro account, and a substantial internet connection. I asked him why he doesn’t upload one photo a day and he responded with, “I use Flickr as storage.” I thought this completely was absurd, until I remembered that some people have never been properly introduced to the social features within Flickr.
What I find most engaging about the product are the lightweight social interactions that allow me to keep up with my friends, even those who don’t have blogs or active myspace/facebook accounts. Much of the social functionality, such as searching for people, adding them as contacts, and following their progress, are not immediately obvious in the interface. This short tutorial should get
Nathan him up to speed, along with anyone else who uses “Flickr for storage”**:
1. Find your friends. First, do a few searches for your connected Flickr friends. These will be the people who told you about Flickr, extol its virtues every time you’re out with them, or use their phone cameras to beam pictures to the internets. Whenever you see someone you know, drag your mouse over their photo, and when a box appears over the photo, press the arrow to expose the secret contact menu. Here you can click the link that says “add them as a contact.” You can also use this menu to get to their contacts page where their friends are listed. Use this list to find any friends you might have in common. Also, when you meet someone you like, exchange Flickr handles. Chances are they’ll be happy to swap photos.
2. Setup alerts. The next step is to make yourself aware of what your friends are doing on Flickr, both in their world and on your photos (you probably didn’t know people were commenting on your photos, did you?!). This is probably because you only go to Flickr when it’s time to dump some photos into the hard drive. There are three feeds of information that you want to track. Find your user id using idgettr and modify these URLs to be your own (right-click, copy the URL and paste it somewhere to replace USERID with your id):
Once you have these three feeds, you need to track them. If you already use an RSS reader, simply add these to your list of feeds. Done. If not, Yahoo! Mail beta users can add them to the feeds box in their mail. For people who don’t know what the hell RSS is, and don’t care, use RMail or RSSFwd to send updates to your email. This should take 5 minutes to setup.
3. Be social. When you see that your friend has uploaded a picture, say something to them. It might not make their day, but it will probably make them happy to know that you’re watching. It’s a small amount of effort that can have a positive impact on someone’s day. Or, if you’re a little shy in the online world, drop one of their photos in an offline conversation, e.g., “hey man, I thought that picture of you with a tiny 49ers helmet on was nuts! Were you drunk?” The answer will, undeniably, be “no.”
I made this guide so that every time I have this conversation I can tell people to search for “flickr social 101.” Please let me know if you have any comments on how to improve this tutorial and I’ll be happy to incorporate them.
** note this guide does not apply to misanthropes or pop-stars.