Photosharing sites like flickr, picassa or 23hq are close to the very definition of the “2.0 state of everything”. They have shown the social potential of photos, wanting to be shared, seen and commented on by a wide public. They’ve shown how the web can intervene and fuel the powers of images in todays modern culture.
However flickr, picassa and 23hq all have suffered from one major drawback: they’ve been far to passive, and pull-oriented: Even though I’ve uploaded pictures of various family-events to flickr, my family only rarely has ended up enjoying my great photographic skills. For them to do so, I’d have to draw their attention to the fact that they could relive the weekends get-together by going to flick, meaning I’d have to send them an email trying to explain them (in words) what I’d put out there for them and instructing them how to get it. This in itself has probably sounded too complicated for a lot of them. But even though most of them might actually have followed the link to my flickr-album, most of them will have been scared off by the flickr-log in procedure.
On Facebook, on the contrary, photosharing seems to be working big time, even though facebook is not (or has not hitherto been regarded as) a photosharing site. Here no efforts are needed for the photos to spread – they virtually autospread themselves: Photos taken by or off my friends shows up automatically whenever I log on and vice versa. Because someone I know have uploaded a new pic. Or because someone have tagged somebody I know on a photo. And since over a third of the entire Danish population are visiting facebook every month (1,85 mio Danes according to the latest FDIM statistics), facebook has reached out far beyond the usual (firstmover) suspects of flickr, linkedin and what have you. Facebook today has the size allowing for pictures effectively to dissolve through very large parts of my actual physical network: On facebook I’m befriended with my parents, siblings, cousins, in laws. With my professional network, with my real friends – and even with some of the kids of the above mentioned.
(Actually the teens in my network seem most wholeheartedly to have adopted the photo sharing capabilities of facebook. A very large part of their social actions on their profiles relates to exactly this: sharing and commenting pictures.)