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Flickr in hindsight

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 by Dave Winer.

You know what they say about hindsight being 20-20. It's that way with Flickr, which was way ahead of everyone else in the social network thing. With a few tweaks three years ago, with active entrepreneurial development and the resources of Yahoo, it could have been everything Twitter or Facebook is today. Permalink to this paragraph

I don't know enough about what goes on behind the scenes to know if it really was possible. It could be that the code is a mess and that the last engineer who understands it left five years ago. If so, the previous paragraph is probably nonsense. But if there are still some good people working on it, it may not even be too late for Flickr to act as a backbone for at least part of the future realtime web. Permalink to this paragraph

The thing that Flickr does that Twitter doesn't is, as I said a few days ago, payloads. In Flickr a payload can be a picture or a video. Another thing Flickr has going for it is a great API with lots of developer support. And while Flickr does go down sometimes, it's a lot more reliable than Twitter. And there's no Suggested User List.  Permalink to this paragraph

What it's missing is a Twitter-like timeline. But I honestly don't think that's so hard to do. I think they already do the hard stuff. Maybe when Carol Bartz gets over the flu we could meet to talk about giving Flickr a lot of independence and a bunch of cash and letting it be free to compete in wild, free of the constraints of corporate Yahoo. Then, once it's flying, the various Yahoo properties can latch on to its growth as any other developer could.  Permalink to this paragraph

It could be a terribly bad idea. But I still love Flickr and use it all the time. I even pay them money every year for privilege. I bet a lot of other people do too. Permalink to this paragraph

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A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 54, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

"The protoblogger." - NY Times.

"The father of modern-day content distribution." - PC World.

One of BusinessWeek's 25 Most Influential People on the Web.

"Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.

"The father of blogging and RSS." - BBC.

"RSS was born in 1997 out of the confluence of Dave Winer's 'Really Simple Syndication' technology, used to push out blog updates, and Netscape's 'Rich Site Summary', which allowed users to create custom Netscape home pages with regularly updated data flows." - Tim O'Reilly.


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