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the rise of the image

using phlow to find the iconic images of the future

Until 2011 it’s estimated that 3.8 trillion images had been taken throughout human history. That is quite a large number until you realise that 1 trillion images were taken in 2015 alone. In 2016, we are looking at about 1.1 trillion and in 2017 a predicted 1.2 trillion. All thanks to smartphones, tablets and platforms like Instagram — in fact by next year about 80% of all photos will be taken on a mobile device.

the rise of visual social media

What all began with the humble website, became the blog with comments and communities, built around posts of anywhere between 500–1,500+ words. Then came along shorter posts in the form of MySpace and Facebook, which evolved into Microblogs with posts of less than 140 characters as “tweets” became all the rage.

Text started to become less and less important as we start to show or friends things rather than telling them. Facebook, Twitter, Wordpress all started to go more visual. YouTube, Tumblr came along and allowed us to soak up visual information at an incredible rate.

Then the inevitable happened. Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat came along, growing at rates never before seen in the history of the world never mind just the Internet. Image based social platforms, where no words are necessary because every post is worth 60k of them!

the fall of the iconic image

Woodstock, JFK, the Beatles, Marilyn Monroe, the fall of the Berlin wall, Muhammed Ali… we can all think of images from these times and individuals that stick in our head. Images that are almost as famous of the people in them in some cases. Truly iconic images from the 60s, 70s, and 80s that bring out sentiment, emotion and memories in us all.

But where are all the iconic images of the noughties? Where are all the iconic images of 2016?

One problem with the sheer volume of visual media being created and published in 2016 is that those truly iconic images are being drowned in a sea of noise. How do we find these images? How do we distinguish them from others? How do we know what images resonate with us on an emotive level?

finding iconic images again

The answer is quite simple; strip out the noise. The solution however, not quite as straight forward. Next year there will be at least 1.1 trillion images produced; the vast majority of which, to you as an individual will be nothing more than noise — we can not stop that noise from being produced.

With phlow we have built the platform on the principles of crowd sourced curation and haptic feedback. Every action in phlow is measured from swiping left and right on an image providing a thumbs up or a thumbs down, to whether you click on or stop on an image during the stream. This all provides feedback to the relevance calculation for the particular context you are viewing the image within and ultimately helps images that resonate the most with users to rise to the top of the stream for other users.

This system has been tested relentlessly… take a look at our #Rio2016 stream from this years Olympics and see it in action for yourself. phlow produced a collection of truly iconic images!


As the number of smartphones and mobile cameras increase, as the number of users on platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and phlow continues to grow — the number of images we produce worldwide every years is only going to get bigger and bigger. Making it more and more difficult for us as an individual to find what we are most interested in.

phlow is just a small part of this ongoing revolution in the way we spend out time online. However our core users grow every day and we firmly believe that we are on to something with the approach we have taken, that sets us apart from existing social media and photo sharing platforms.

Come and join us, and start searching for your own iconic images #findyourphlow

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