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December 30, 2004

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Flickr: The Land of 10,000 Memes

Pontification on the meteoric popularity of Flickr is a common past time-- and it makes all the sense in the world of network hubs, preferential attachment, link fitness, etc (see Thinking About Links...).

Flickr was hardly the first photoblog site (I danced a bit with fotolog and buzznet before flickr even hit the seen) but flickr's design and myriad of uses have made it the Google of the bunch. Well earned.

I was also thinking of some of the blog "memes" that have passed around, those ideas that spread virally across a social network (What's a neme?). Recent examples include:

* Your personality in 25 links (A-Z): What web sites pop in your browser for each letter of the alphabet?

* 40 questions about 2004 : personal reflections (who has time to answer all of those?)

* My Not So Greatest Playlist : create a party shuffle (random mix) from your digital music collection.

* Grab Book Page 23 Sentence 5 : greab the nearest book you are reading and share the 5th sentence from page 23.

Is there a purpose to this? They are fun and perhaps revealing when put into a larger pool. Why are some bigger and more rampant? It has all to do with the amount of exposure they get on hubs, and perhaps how simple they are to join/add to. I was willing to cut and paste a 10 song list but less eager to write out responses to 40 questions.

Which brings me back to flickr. It's free form tagging tied to visual, personal images make it the über center for creating memes that are easy to join. What are flickr memes? Just follow the tags.

* Photos of road signs.
* Photos of cemetaries.
* The 2004 election meme.
* Photos of Eclipses.
* Storytelling.
* Heck, even overweight cats have a meme!

The number of memes here is mind boggling (if your mind is boggled by memes)- and it is so easy to pitch into a flickr meme. The immense number of internal flickr links as well as the valuable ways you can tie your web sites in and out of flickr are key at making it grow into one of those network hubs that are so critical to scale free networks.

blogged December 30, 2004 01:01 AM :: category [ small pieces ]
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Evidence Flickr is brilliant: My two year old gets it. He demanded to see a carwash while we were at home one day and I tried Flickr ( We switched into the slide show and I showed him the arrow keys. He started paging through the photos, going back to his favorites. It's not that he's brilliant (though he is) it was just so simple and satisfying. He loved it. Now he regularly wants to see photos: Llamas, tractors, spiderman, or my personal favorite, Fifi ( We found the black chihuahua Fifi while searching for dogs, and Nathan is very attached to her. I've swapped comments with Fifi's owner. I think that's amazing.

Commented by: Ben Brophy on December 30, 2004 07:16 AM

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