So Long Instagram, and Thanks For All the Shoes

December 21, 2012

There's a growing sentiment right now to ditch Instagram and move to Flickr. (For many it might be “back” to Flickr, but I'll get to that later.) Obviously this sentiment comes after Instagram shot themselves in the foot with a piss-poor handling of their new terms of service, but is that the only reason for the vitriol? Other that being bought by Facebook, did Instagram do something else before this? Because it seems like all this was just bubbling below the surface, waiting for a reason to explode. Maybe it's not Instagram, but rather everything else that seems to burn customers (or users, but don't start with the product/customer adages, please) after they've gotten hooked. And by everything else, I, uh, can't really give good examples, but it happens all the time, amirite?

Combine Instagram's inevitable slide to a Facebook level of creepiness with the fairly great new iPhone Flickr app that just happened to come out right before this incident, and I'm ditching Instagram for Flickr with everyone else (everyone, in this case, is all the design/nerd trendsetters I follow digitally, and, uh, Anderson Cooper). But I'm a little sad about it.

Instagram did something that, for several years now, has been pointed to as a huge reason for Flickr's undoing--they made photo sharing easy and fun. They did it in a way that inspired countless designers and app makers and probably annoying MBAs for years to come. And that's by doing one thing insanely well. On one platform. While everyone else was piling on features and benefits, trying to reach every person on the planet, they went simple, and they reaped the rewards, so to speak.

Now I'm going to suggest that is also why Flickr stands a chance again, or at least is getting nerds excited again. Not only is it ad-free (for Pros), and not only does it harken back to a more innovative, open, and innocent time on the web, but it's also powerful. Instagram never became powerful, or should I say, it never became great for power users.

Instagram gave me a fun way to share my beautiful, boring, and horrible photos with people. It made me think about photography (and sharing) in a way that Flickr never did. Some of that is the fact that I suddenly had a pretty decent camera in my pocket every second of my life. But it still encouraged me to take pictures I wouldn't have otherwise, just to share them. Maybe that's self-expression (what am I, a fucking artist?), and maybe it's hoping I get someone to click on a little heart icon (what do I need, constant affirmation?). Either way, it tapped into something great. And I want to thank it for that.

Link: Looking Backwards or The Joyful Now

December 2, 2012

Matt Haughey's "Why I love Twitter and barely tolerate Facebook" is fantastic, and it puts into words the essential difference between the two that I've struggled to express:

I’m optimistic and delighted every time I open up Twitter on my browser, while Facebook is something I only click on once or twice a day and always with a small sense of dread.

I could not agree any more with every word he wrote. (via @kottke)

Last Time I Wrote

November 30, 2012

A year ago today tomorrow, I started my new job at MAYA. A new career, really. Before jumping in, I did a bit of soul searching about what I had been doing for eight years--the good, the bad, all that. I realized I was a little fed up with how things had been going, and I wanted something different. Articulating what I wanted was not easy, but I put these sophomoric words on my (hastily constructed) portfolio site:

I want to work with people and organizations I believe in. That’s not some idealistic fantasy, saying that I’ll only work for altruistic non-profits that align perfectly with my beliefs. It means I want to work on things that are important to the people in charge. Not just important, but critical. Critical to their business model, critical to the success of their organization, critical to their happiness.

Design is not an expense, it’s not a necessary evil, it’s not an afterthought. It should be treated as an investment. It should be part of the process. Don’t call your designer after you’ve figured out how to communicate your message. Call them when you think you know what your message is, and have them help you hammer it out. If design is part of your team, part of your process, and part of your business, you won’t be left figuring out how to put a face on a message, it will be obvious what shape and form your messaging will take.

Looking back, I'm amazed that I fell into a place like MAYA. There was no moment of clarity where I banged on the table and said "Hey! This sounds exactly like what this one firm in town preaches!" I've spent the last year hearing others encapsulate this sentiment in much more eloquent ways, that's helped me understand what I was trying to say.

Yesterday, we met with a client that we've finally convinced that they need to do something unthinkable for them. Basically go underground with a small team for a few months for a non-project project. To build a foundation which will fundamentally change the way they build their products in the future. To make them better by teaching them how to design and collaborate better.

A year ago I couldn't really picture being part of a small team that's trying to change the way this behemoth of a company works, and even if it was on the table I might not have taken it, most likely out of ignorance. But it's exactly what I was trying to picture last year. It's just taken some time to draw it.