In light of this week’s BIG story on the net about Instagram’s apparent change to their Terms of Service I have 5ive thoughts.
1. CBC National came and profiled me as a prolific use of the app. Always interesting to see the gathering of news from the inside. Two reporters, one for the radio side, the other for TV. 25 minutes of talking about stuff reduced to 4 quick sound bites. They both were checking twitter, taking mobile snaps of me, while creating the story, then tweeting in anticipation of it running. All this social stuff has really changed how these folks do their work. The pace of news has escalated so much, it can’t be easy. Karen sent me her radio pieces, moments before it went on national radio only to have Instagram finally respond to the outrage in an attempt to diffuse the issue. 30 mins later an new edit reflecting that response was in my inbox.
2. As other artists have pointed out, copyright and ownership issues have come up before on all sorts of social networks. The difference this time: the network was
30 million people,100 million and it was specifically their photos created by their mobile devices. People’s emotional attachement to their photos is strong. Photo albums are always cited as the one thing people would grab while running from a burning home. The ambivalence in the wording of these new terms of service created that urgent feeling of losing control of your images. This article on Wired on how to save your photos and slash and burn your account quickly went all over the internet. It also revealed the latent distain people have twoard Facebook. Its the network we love to hate, resenting its pull. Facebook has changed their terms of service before, and their was outrage and then a backing down. But it didn’t make the evening news! Could it be that since Instagram was solely dealing with photos people were much more touchy?
My big soundbite consisted of “one man’s snapshot is another’s ad campaign” The example I was citing was my wife hugging a Dyson box. As we’ve seen on Flickr, companies looking for authentic moments will be scouring these social networks for images that read genuine. You can’t get a better endorsement of Dyson, than a wife hugging a box! As many other users have pointed out, if an advertiser can figure out a way to use crappy cellphone pic of my lunch to their benefit, then by all means, let’s see you try!
3. There is a debate around shopping malls as public spaces. We’re collectively embraced these privately owned properties as a replacement to the town square. In this climate we’ve embraced it perhaps even more so than others. As long as you don’t do anything “wrong” you’re allowed to remain in these spaces. But do anything that the management of these spaces doesn’t agree or align with and your suddenly reminded that these spaces are private properties designed to make money.
There are some parallels in these free social networks. They actively encourage you to embrace their network, but with the ulterior motive to sell things. So this move to find a way to make money off 100 million mobile phone users shouldn’t come as no surprise. But it seems like it did. How many of use in our haste to sign on to the next big thing hit “I AGREE” as fast as you can to get to the good stuff? As many cited this week, if your getting something for free, you are the product
4. And of course the big question people ask me: Will you still use Instagram?
I just haven’t decided yet. I already use different apps in the creation and editing of my iphone images. I primarily use Instagram as a quick way to serve the images up to the most people. As more and more people joined Instagram and Facebook, I still sent my images to Flickr. Filckr was just mozying along, people lamenting it’s slow slide into irrelevance. As a long time user I wanted Flickr to grow. So when tweeps were asking if I’d pay for Instagram to offer their service, ad free and on my own terms, I said I already do, over on Flickr. It seemed everyone looked to Flickr as a reasonable alternative. I had more people add me as a contact on Tuesday than I had in the last year! It a rare more of strategic brilliance, Flickr was well positioned with the outrage, basking in the glow of the release of their wicked awesome iOS app. Switching was so easy and as many discovered, it gave you so much more. The few snaps I took with my phone this week, I used the new flickr app, it really is quite nice!
5 And finally this…. In light of all this I serve this up as a reminder, to put this all in perspective. At the end of the day, all this hand wringing over terms of service, seems kinda silly doesn’t it?