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Flickr: A case study of Web2.0

By A.M. Cox


The “photosharing” site Flickr is one of the most commonly cited examples used to define Web2.0. This paper explores where Flickr’s real novelty lies, examining its functionality and its place in the world of amateur photography. The paper draws on a wide range of sources including published interviews with its developers, user opinions expressed in forums, telephone interviews and content analysis of user profiles and activity. Flickr’s development path passes from an innovative social game to a relatively familiar model of a website, itself developed through intense user participation but later stabilising with the reassertion of a commercial relationship to the membership. The broader context of the impact of Flickr is examined by looking at the institutions of amateur photography and particularly the code of pictorialism promoted by the clubs and industry during the C20th. The nature of Flickr as a benign space is premised on the way the democratic potential of photography is controlled by such institutions. Several optimistic views of the impact of Flickr such as its facilitation of citizen journalism, “vernacular creativity” and in learning as an “affinity space” are evaluated. The limits of these claims are identified in the way that the system is designed to satisfy commercial purposes, continuing digital divides in access and the low interactivity and criticality on Flickr. Flickr is an interesting source of change, but can only to be understood in the perspective of long term development of the hobby and wider social processes

Publisher: Emerald
Year: 2008
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.whiterose.ac.uk:9043

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