A critical mass of photograph swappers…

Everyone at ETCon had a Mac. Or at least pretty much everyone at ETCon had a Mac. And pretty much everyone was using the wifi network in the conference rooms. And – much like last time – loads of people were using Rendezvous to instant message each other in iChat as well as to collaborate on documents using SubEthaEdit. Also this year, everyone was taking photos with their digital cameras. But one thing surprised me – no one was sharing their albums via iPhoto. When I was in Los Angeles I’d bought iLife because I wanted to play with Garageband, but when I started playing with the various applications I quickly realised that iPhoto’s rendezvous sharing could be really really interesting and cool in an environment like ETCon. I kept thinking that there would be a whole culture in photo swapping and distributing snaps of speakers, nicking pictures of yourself from other people’s computers, finding ways to annotate your own personal experience of the conference with the distributed materials of a few hundred attendees. But there was no such culture there.

There may be any number of reasons why it didn’t take off in that environment, of course. One possibility is that people feel different about photos than they do with playlists and music – more proprietorial, more nervous of sharing. Or there might have just been problems with the network. But I can’t help feeling that it’s a direct consequence of Apple charging for this particular update – and that the critical mass of people that you’d need to make an active subculture around that stuff will now not be reached…

6 replies on “A critical mass of photograph swappers…”

I wondered the same thing myself, then looked at my photo stash to see what I should share.
I don’t go around taking nude portraits of anyone, but there are loads of embarassing things in my iPhoto library. Stuff like 35 shots of my face in various poses when I was testing out a new portrait lens. There’s a definite difference between how personal photos are and how personal my music collection is. One feels private and something to be guarded, the other is to be openly shared.
You can limit sharing to only albums, and I could/should have made an etech album and left only that open to all, but I didn’t think of it at the time.
The other half of this problem is the interface is whack. Ideally, it’d be great if I saw a little photo icon in my iChat list for every buddy that had also opened up their photo galleries. Maybe a little music note too, to send me to their iTunes lists. And while we’re making pie in the sky requests, tell iChat to let me share music and photos with buddies not on rendezvous, but aim. They’re my friends and no matter if they’re across the room or the Atlantic, I don’t mind if they listen to a few of my mp3s or browse my latest gallery of images. Heck, this could be killer for finding new music to buy, by getting a look at what my friends are listening to most this week.

I suspect that part of it is also that iPhoto isn’t the only way to manage photos, and given iPhoto’s rough start for large collections it might have scared people off early on. Unlike iTunes which is mostly the only game in town for playing music on the Mac, it’s very possible (and perferable to some people) to import, hand organize, and browse photos using Image Capture, Preview, and GraphicConverter.

“Everyone at ETCon had a Mac. Or at least pretty much everyone at ETCon had a Mac.”
Not true, Tom. I did a couple of counts and, in the audience, the numbers were pretty close to even.
At the 2003 event, pretty much everyone did have a Mac, so that was a major change.
At least one person took both an iBook and a ThinkPad — me 😉

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