Rethinking Flickr and MobileMe

Cause I still haven’t found what I’m looking for

It’s been an on-again off-again search for me, but Dan Benjamin’s article Is Flickr Still “The Place” For Online Photos? got me thinking about finding the perfect online photo gallery solution again… the one that has thus far eluded me.

I’d like a system that is attractive and easy to use, for both me managing, and my friends and family perusing. I should be able to upload photos easily from Aperture or iPhoto, and there should be a community aspect that allows for collaboration and comments. Simple, right?

What about Flickr?

As the title of Dan’s article suggests, Flickr at one time was, or perhaps still is, the place most people turn to for photo sharing. After all they have the ‘community’ thing, with lots of users to intermingle with, and tools that integrate with nearly any system to make uploading easy. They have covered all my above criteria… except for one thing.

The interface sucks. Period. It sucks to browse, and it sucks to manage. Second period.

And now I come to find out from Dan that they strip EXIF data. I never knew I needed EXIF data, or if it’s important, but now that it’s gone, this may be yet another reason to leave Flickr.

I do applaud Flickr for all they have done, especially making the community thing work well, and for a long time (relatively).

What about MobileMe gallery?

I signed up for MobileMe right out of the gate, mostly for the ‘push’ calendars and contacts capabilities. The gallery was just a bonus. It connects seamlessly with Aperture, and uploading couldn’t be any easier. The interface is attractive, and for friends and family, its easy to use.

Managing  my images, on the other hand, is fairly rudimentary. I can create ‘albums,’ but they appear in a long list. The ability to group albums in my own folders would go a long way in solving this issue, but who knows when or if Apple will ever feature this.

MobileMe gallery is also an island within itself. If I don’t send you a direct link to my gallery, you’ll never find my photos. MobileMe suffers greatly from the lack of community aspect.

The real need

I think for most of my friends and family, having multiple places to go to view photos of the kids or our adventures is cumbersome. Why should they have to leave one website (and interface) for another, and then have to figure out how to navigate back when they’re done. Getting people to check up on a site is hard enough, I really should make it easier by keeping it all in one place. But how?

You can see here, perhaps, the beauty of a community like Facebook, a place that allows you to post all sorts of information about yourself in one central place. A place that you know your friends will be checking in on without the need to notify them. No need to send an email, no need for RSS.


Flickr and MobileMe are two galleries I’ve used. Neither one is quite the answer. Neither one serves both my need for a community, and the need to make sharing my life easier for visitors. Facebook is great for what it is, but it doesn’t allow for the deeper conversations that a blog and a full fledged image gallery allow for. And so the search will continue.

What do you use, and why?

0 thoughts on “Rethinking Flickr and MobileMe

  1. Good post. You\’ve sussed it out nicely. I\’ve been flirting with all these services (only pay for MobileMe) and definitely agree with your opinion of Flickr. Cumbersome and forbidding. I like community, but there can be something chaotic about the complete stranger aspect. I sink happily into the MobileMe interface and love how I can push a live gallery from my iPhoto, etc. Seamless. But I too was wondering about how isolated it is. Did some thinking and realized that it probably should be. I have a public folder and a valuable personal email address, both of which might be vulnerable if the gallery, and thus my MobileMe personality, turned up in search engines. After reading your post I\’m starting to see the value of integrating carefully EACH of these services, with Facebook as the hub for your trusted creative community. I\’m giving up on the idea of one perfectly integral solution and am gonna start loving the hack.

  2. @Kalonica – Since writing this, I\’ve given up totally on Flickr. I still use MoblieMe to house all the photos I care to share, but I don\’t think anyone goes there.

    I\’ve come to realize that nearly no-one wants to browse my complete collection. If I have some photos that relate to a post they are reading, then they\’ll look at those, as long as its easy.

    I\’ve just installed the NextGEN gallery plugin for WordPress on my kids site. It works pretty well, provides thumbs for the post, and then uses a javascript gallery to view. Check it out if you use WordPress. Here\’s a link to a post I\’ve used it on:

  3. interesting post, bryan.

    i agree with you, the all-singing-all-dancing solution isn’t out there.

    my main site for my artistic project is flickr, but i pull the pictures into my own site (see website abouve). i like flickr’s community aspect and it’s tagging and searching capabilties: not perfect but a good start.

    i use mobileme for quick-sharing with friends. it looks absolutley gergous, but you have not muuch control over the result. moreover, the browser requiremnts are sometimes annoying.

    some things i publish via iWeb, for blogs i use tumblr and blogger, but i think of integrating mobileme, iWeb and the blog services into one wordpress solution.

    cheers, leo

  4. I use Menaltos Gallery 2 which is not perfect but it gets the job done. By not perfect i mean that everything is wrong with it but once you get it working it does the job well. They have new version (Gallery 3) in the making and it should be out soon. If it is to believe what they ay the 3 will be THE gallery for selfhosting 🙂
    Here is their site:
    And here is mine gallery:

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