Teaching Examples

Double dust-up in online photography world
May 17, 2007, 3:02 pm
Filed under: community, online, photography

Part 1 was the deletion of a very successful Flickr member’s photo, a subsequent apology from Flickr management, and a discussion about copyright and disputed naïveté. (The member is Rebekka Guðleifsdóttir, whose commercial success via Flickr was recently the subject of a fascinating post at the photo-flash blog Strobist. Photocritic posted a great how-to about what to do when people steal your photos, which is connected to why Rebekka’s deleted photo drew Flickr management’s attention in the first place.)

Two points of value I saw in the discussions and events:

(a) Once again, we witness that people do perceive they are part of a private and personal society — a community, if you will — when they belong to a purely online (and even purely commercial) group. An earlier example was the uprising at Facebook in September, when it imposed a News Feed feature on users that made them feel virtually naked.

(b) Anything you put on a server that you do not control might be deleted, erased, destroyed. The simple lesson: Always keep backups of your work. The broader lesson: Somebody else owns the rights to that space. The owner makes the rules.

Part 2 was the departure of Derek Powazek and Heather Champ from 8020 Publishing and JPG Magazine. There’s a similarity to Part 1 because contributors to JPG Magazine have that same sense of belonging to a society (and in fact, JPG Magazine grew out of a Flickr group). There’s also a link in that Champ works for Flickr, although that didn’t bear directly on the JPG Magazine incident, so far as I know.

JPG Magazine has now cut ties with its origins (see the bottom half of the About page):

The first version of JPG Magazine was created by the husband and wife team of Derek Powazek and Heather Powazek Champ. It was a quarterly printed publication devoted to brave new photography that took submissions over the internet and printed on good old fashioned paper. It was edited by Derek and Heather, printed in digest format, and sold through Lulu.com.

These first six issues of JPG Magazine served as inspiration for the new JPG Magazine, and they are available exclusively through Lulu.com.

You’ll notice there are no discussion forums at the JPG Magazine site.

I was on the verge of subscribing to JPG Magazine last month, but I subscribed instead to Wholphin, a quarterly DVD of hard-to-see video published by McSweeney’s. Now I won’t subscribe, because part of what appealed to me about JPG Magazine was the same thing that led me to join the Flickr group — a sense of community and people doing something in a peer-to-peer manner. Now it’s clear that it’s just a business.

Like Facebook, the printed magazine was always “just a business.” Don’t think I’m naïve. But also, don’t underestimate the power and commitment of a group of people who feel like — no, believe — they are part of a community.

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