Thinking and speaking about the new Flickr

It’s been two days or so that popular photo-sharing service Flickr completely overhauled its design and service package. Now it’s bigger, shinier and, well, it looks more “2013” than it did before. Of course, like anything that goes through major changes out there, that didn’t go without causing a certain degree of controversy. Remember that the computing world has been through some significant changes as of late (i.e. the past 6 years):

  • Recent versions of Microsoft Office now have the “ribbon” user interface that I personally can’t get to grips with (and don’t care anyway, as I actually use LibreOffice).
  • The Gnome foundation decided to ditch the once-excellent Gnome 2 desktop and replace it with Gnome 3, which is a crashy, idiotic, unfixable and unworkable steaming pile of crap that tries to appeal to tablet users, but isn’t even suitable for tablets because it requires the sort of processing power tablets simply don’t have and won’t have in the foreseeable future (heck, it even takes up too much CPU and RAM on desktops and medium-powered laptops).
  • Canonical (developers of the Debian-based Ubuntu Linux distro) ditched Gnome 2 and replaced it with something that’s even worse than Gnome 3 (if that could ever be possible) and also brought back a few Window Maker/NeXTstep/Afterstep concepts, which were cool in 1995, but I’m not too sure about them nowadays.
  • Microsoft (again!) decided to punish its users by saddling them with the craptastic Windows Vista and now with the rather annoying Windows 8.

Needless to say, all of these changes brought about a lot of drama on blogs and internet forums, with users on either side of the fence crossing their swords – or, in the case of the Gnome 3 and Ubuntu Unity desktops, users engaging in battle with fanboys and shills. And now, we get a new Flickr. Bigger photos. Or, perhaps, much too big for some. Lots more free space: 1 Terabyte. Hell, I don’t have a terabyte of storage space at home. And some changes to the service package. Now, the first coherent blog post on the matter was Strawberry Singh‘s take. Strawberry is a photographer in SL – an excellent one – and she uses Flickr extensively, so I highly recommend that you go over there and read her opinion.

As for what I think… Well, let’s put things in order. There were changes that were good, and changes that were either bad or not-so-good. Actually, this whole story has three sides: the good, the bad and the BAWWWWW.

The Good:

  • The new layout looks a lot sleeker and more modern.
  • The pictures are really big and very, very visible.
  • Access to the sets is now easier.
  • Even on a free account, you get the “replace photo” option.
  • Scrolling through contacts’ pictures is now easier.
  • Cover photo. Finally!
  • As for the Android app, I’m sorry, but I haven’t used it – all of my SL photography work is done on my computer, therefore…

The Bad:

  • The increased image size proved to be a double-edged sword: People now tend to not click on them to view them as their poster intended (with their accompanying description and commentary) and, when these images are connected with blogs and other websites, these get fewer hits. So, the increased image size has resulted in a certain loss of the experience the image poster wanted to provide.
  • You can’t see how many views a set or collection has had without entering it. Also, there’s now far too little space for its description, so whatever longer text you had written now is “gone”. Actually, it’s not gone. You just get the start of the text, then the obligatory “…” and you have to hover your cursor so that a tooltip-like box appears with all the text. But, really, mouse over is not the best solution for devices that don’t have a mouse or other pointing device (like tablets). And even on desktops, this can be elusive, plus there is a delay, which depends on each individual’s mouse and cursor settings.
  • The new business model makes me wonder about its feasibility and sustainability. Back in the old days, you knew you had two options: a free account that allowed you to have up to 200 pictures visible and a paid (pro) account that allowed you unlimited pictures and also gave you a nifty statistics toolbox. Now, we have a free account that gives us a massive 1TB of storage, but we also get to see ads. For $49.99 a year, we can go ad-free. And for $499.99 a year, we can get an extra terabyte. But the stats are gone from both options and I wonder: why would I ever want to bother upgrading? OK, I hate ads, so I’ve got AdBlock Plus, which does a magnificent job (and fuck you Google for making it nigh on impossible to install in Android now) on both Firefox and Chrome (I’m a Linux bitch, so no M$ crap on my machines). I would perhaps be tempted to upgrade if stats came with both of these options.
  • With the new layout, the image takes up practically the whole screen and people have to scroll down to see the information pertaining to it. Trust me, many users simply will not do this and a lot will be missed by them (image descriptions, image licence status etc).
  • While the sets are readily and easily accessible, the collections have been relegated to a sub-menu on the right-hand edge of the screen.
  • To get the option to see the other sizes (and the download options) of the image, you need to right-click on it; this, however, also brings up your browser’s context menu. And no, disabling the context menu with a script is not an option.

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