Friday, April 11, 2008

Flickr Users Protest Against Video...

Earlier this week, the popular photo-sharing website, Flickr, announced that it would be rolling out video-sharing for its "pro" (a.k.a. - "paying") users. This seemed like a logical arena for Flickr to extend into. Its wildly popular photo-sharing service has a cult-like devoted following, so offering its core base of users the ability to share videos was expected to be seen as a welcome addition.

So why have Flickr users been protesting against it?

As Jenna Wortham reports, groups such as "We Say No to Video on Flickr" and "No Video on Flickr" have organized to protest the move and have mobilized over 34,000 people since Tuesday. These protesters are primarily upset because there was no public beta testing (everyone's settings were just reset, and there was little community consultation), they perceive the videos to be significantly slowing down the entire website, and they believe that the inclusion of video dilutes Flickr's photo-centric purpose.

Besides spreading an online petition, the anti-video crusaders are also labeling their photos with a "novideo" tag and, ironically, posting still-photos that depict violence against video hardware.

This isn't exactly a new precedent that's being set. "Flickr purists have an affinity for protesting any changes related to the site. In 2005, some Flickr users threatened a 'mass suicide' in response to Yahoo's purchase of the photo site. And this February, Flickr users staged online protests amidst swirling reports of a Microsoft acquisition of Yahoo."

What this fascinating case demonstrates is that even Web 2.0 aficionados on the cyber front-lines can be equally conservative and adverse to change as the stereotypical crotchedy old man trying to return soup at a deli. Furthermore, community-based websites are increasingly proving to be a hotbed for lightning-fast mobilization and collective action, as recent cases with Facebook also demonstrate. Finally, on the supply-side of the equation, service providers ought to take note that "improvement" doesn't necessarily mean more services, but may be defined simply as enhancing existing ones.

If nothing else, this is clearly a triumph for the unexpected.


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