When I started this site in 1998, one of the first things I posted was a set of pictures I took on a walk through Downtown Lincoln, Nebraska
. The gallery is a bit clunky (both the photos and the design), but I put it together by hand and it worked. Over the years I've posted numerous galleries here, as you can see on my photos page
. In 2003 I set up a way to automatically publish pictures from my cell phone to the web: Mophos Moblog
. (It still has my old design.) In 2004 I set up a separate photoblog
, 2005 archive
) where I could easily post any photo without interrupting my text blog or without having enough photos for a full gallery of related pictures.
Even though I have all of these home-grown tools for posting photos, almost all of my photo activity here at onfocus.com stopped in 2006. (The last photo on my photoblog is from July 3rd, 2006. And the last gallery I posted is from February 27th, 2006.) Part of the problem is that I'm simply not taking as many photos these days. And the other problem is that I'm using the fantastic photo-sharing application Flickr
(my Flickr photostream
). Every photo that I want to share online goes directly to Flickr where I know it will be seen by my Flickr pals. And if someone isn't yet a Flickr pal and I'd like them to see a photo or two, I just send them to my Flickr photostream. I love Flickr so much that I even wrote half of a book about all the cool stuff you can do with it called Flickr Hacks
. My online photo life has moved entirely over to Flickr.
Unfortunately, my inner geek isn't completely thrilled with my move to Flickr. As much as I believe Flickr is a revolutionary application, a part of me is sad to see onfocus.com go without photos. And another part of me thinks that all of the awesome stuff that Flickr enables (community, conversation, collaboration, cataloging, aggregation, and so much more) should be done in a distributed way across the Web. The Web geek in me feels that photo sharing shouldn't be owned by any one company, and photos themselves should ultimately be under the control of individual photographers.
I know this vision of distributed photo-sharing doesn't seem realistic right now, but it is happening. Photobloggers post across servers and domains with widely varying software and somehow aggregators are able to pull their photos together in unique ways thanks to standard feed formats. (I still use blogging software I wrote myself, yet I can join in the larger blogosphere because any news reader can pick up my feeds.) Of course enabling ad-hoc groups is impossible without a centralized application—and identity management/access control (photos for friends/family only) is next to impossible in a distributed fashion. But I believe the tools will get there. And I'd like to start living in my distributed-photo-utopia once again.
I realize that not everyone has the means and ability to manage their own server space. But as a do-it-yourself Web guy I have both, and I'd like to get back ultimate control over my photos. Over the next few weeks (months?) I'm going to re-write my personal photoblogging software from scratch. My first task will be to gather the 500+ photos I've already uploaded to Flickr, because their API makes it possible to export my photos. I'm hoping to document my progress along the way, in case my steps can help anyone else out there who wants to go the DIY route. Going off the grid (so to speak) won't be easy, but I just need to remember that I've been there before.
Progress so far: