Dear Adobe, Please buy Flickr

This photo of the San Juan River Utah is among dozens of thousands I’ve put up on Flickr. it might be collateral damage if Yahoo dies or fails to sell the service to a worthy buyer.

Flickr is far from perfect, but it is also the largest, oldest and most extensive service for serious photographers. At a time when the center of photographic gravity is drifting from arts & archives to selfies & social, Flickr remains both retro and contemporary in the best possible ways: a museum-grade treasure it would hurt terribly to lose.

Alas, it is owned by Yahoo, which is, despite Marissa Mayer’s best efforts, circling the drain.

Flickr was created and lovingly nurtured by Stewart Butterfield and Caterina Fake from its creation in 2004, through its acquisition by Yahoo in 2005 and until their departure in 2008. Since then it’s had ups and downs. The latest down was the departure of Bernardo Hernandez in 2015.

I don’t even know who, if anybody, runs it now. According to Petapixel, it’s probably up for sale. Writes Michael Zhang there, “In the hands of a good owner, Flickr could thrive and live on as a dominant photo sharing option. In the hands of a bad one, it could go the way of MySpace and other once-powerful Internet services that have withered away from neglect and lack of innovation.”

Naturally, the natives are restless. (Me too. I currently have 62,527 photos parked and curated there. They’ve had over ten million views and run about 5,000 views per day. I suppose it’s possible that nobody is more exposed in this thing than I am.)

So I’m hoping a big and successful photography-loving company will pick it up. I volunteer Adobe. It has the photo editing tools most used by Flickr contributors, and I expect it would do a better job of taking care of both the service and its customers than would Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft or other possible candidates.

Less likely, but more desirable, is some kind of community ownership. Anybody up for a kickstarter?

[Later…] What @Stewart Butterfield (Flickr co-founder and now co-founder of Slack) says here in Twitter begs to be said here as well: “Much easier to start again and build export tool.”

Or use an existing one. So I’m trying out 500px. Seems better than Flickr in some respects, so far. Hmm… Is it possible to suck every one of my photos, including metadata, out of Flickr by its API and bring it over to 500px? Anybody know?

Tags: Adobe, Business, Flickr, Photography, Yahoo


Originally published at blogs.harvard.edu on May 7, 2016.