Friday, September 15, 2006

Are there benefits to using Flickr to host a digital collection?

We all know of institutions that are augmenting their digital collections through Flickr. Flickr is easy to use and free for many users. But is Flickr a sustainable host for digital collections? Jeremiah Saunders is thinking about this topic and has done some preliminary research into it.
  • If your institution is using Flickr, how are you using it?
  • What do you rely on Flickr for?
  • Do you consider it transient information?
I'd be interested in hearing the answers to those questions as I prepare for a workshop for library staff members in October on social networking tools. I know how I see organizations use Flickr -- including PictureAustralia -- but would enjoy hearing more examples, including problems and concerns. I'm sure Saunders would also enjoy hearing from institutions that are incorporating Flickr into their digital collections.

1 comment:

Josh Shear said...

I think any time a for-profit business – particularly in an industry that isn't mature yet – offers a service for free or for low cost, we have to imagine that things could change, dramatically and quickly.

We think of Yahoo! (which owns flickr) as one of the mainstays of the Internet, but remember, was first registered as a domain name in 1994. They aren't yet a well-established company, as far as well-established companies go. And there may come a time when they get out of the "hi, we're a massive hard drive for everybody!" business.

Plus, if you look at some other sites that let you upload stuff, you never know what you're going to find. MySpace's Terms of Service give the company (owned by News Corp., which also owns Fox and a bunch of other stuff) the right to use photos or music you upload for whatever it wants – including licensing for TV and movies – without paying the copyright holder, if the items have been uploaded to MySpace's servers.

If Yahoo! – or any future owner of flickr – decided to implement something like that, there are a lot of people who stand to lose a lot.

I think flickr's a great tool (I do use it), but I also keep backups of everything locally, and use my own web space for anything I'd prefer other companies to not have their dirty little hands on.