[lug] photo sharing, socializing...

Davide Del Vento davide.del.vento at gmail.com
Thu May 1 10:56:43 MDT 2014

I have an opinion on what used to be Google Picasaweb and is now
Google Plus. I believe this opinion (at least partially) applies to
other cloud providers.

First, if you go to a dinner and you are not paying for your seat, you
are going to be put on the table and be the dinner. No matter what
they say about "being nice and not evil", they are going to sell your
data to make money. Maybe they are even sincere, they are not evil,
they just need to pay the bills to keep the servers running and
serving your data. So you have to give up some privacy to begin with.
Maybe not all your privacy, but some. There is tradeoff that you have
to consider: where to draw the line? Do you even have choice or is it
the company who decides? And more often than not there is a constant,
stressful, change to the privacy rules, to balance the "not alienate
too many users" with the "make enough money to please the VC,
stockholder, or other stakeholders". Even if you are paying (e.g. you
can pay Google for storage), you often are paying just a fraction of
the real cost, and even if you are paying the full cost (like in AWS),
you are just a drop in a ocean. So must be prepared to think as you
are not and will not be treated like an human being, not even as a
number, but as a drop of water in the ocean. They do not care about
you, but they care about the ocean. Some water is always lost and it
might be you.

Second, lock-in. Google has this data liberation team and that's a
good thing. However it does not go far enough, in my opinion. Some
others have similar "export" things. Good for you that you did not
mention FB (for some, the "best photo sharing website"). What you want
is being able to export at decent bandwidth all your data. All means
all: your full resolution original images, the full history of
contributed comments, label and tags. Possibly the full history of
edits, or at least the last one. You want to do this efficiently, i.e.
you want a single-click that dumps that stuff for you. You don't want
to sift images and comments one-by-one. You don't want to download all
the downscaled copies that the service may have generated. You want to
be able to resume the download if it is interrupted, because it will
be big and it *will* be interrupted. Nobody offers this. Google's data
liberation is the best the industry offers us, but it does not even
come close.

Third, features. Unlike the previous two bullets, this may be a
characteristics of Google and not apply to others (but I suspect it
does). They change features and interface constantly. It's a pain to
keep up. Especially with the recent "plus" fad, the chase for a
"clean, modern interface". I believe "clean" means abysmal. Stuff
automatically hides and appears only if you hover the mouse on it for
a while. Really? Am I supposed to blindly move the mouse on all the
screen to see if a menu appears there? And if each of those ghosts has
the feature that disappeared from here? And I am supposed to teach my
old mother, living oversea, who does not speak English and did not use
computers before I moved to Boulder (and did so only because that was
the only way to keep in touch with me and my kids)? Oh my!

I am really sorry for having written such a rant, but your asking for
an opinion triggered my disenchantment. I'll be pleased to learn that
I'm missing the "next big thing after slicing bread" and change my
opinion if anybody has any better experience.


On Thu, May 1, 2014 at 10:09 AM, William D. Knoche
<bill.knoche at gmail.com> wrote:
> Just looking for some suggestions...
> I was asked by some friends from college about a setting up restricted photo
> sharing and social networking site.
> We want to be able for anyone from the group to upload and archive into
> "galleries" photos of ours, be able to annotate, tag and search by date,
> location, people tagged, etc. as well as have "conversations" about them.
> We would like it to be secure for the invited registered members and perhaps
> being able to selectively choose to make some things very private (to a
> limited subset) or more open.
> I have been looking for the components to host this myself.
> Certainly there are some choices for "forums", blogging, etc. What is best?
> What about the photo sharing part? How to integrate the discussions and
> images...?
> I can certainly just get a subscription to Smugmug or another photo sharing
> site though I have no personal experience setting that up for a small group.
> (If you have opinions/comments/recommendations on a particularly good site I
> would welcome that, too)
> But if I were to roll my own...
> Has anyone done anything like this? Suggestions/recommendations?
> The goal is really more about maintaining control and not being locked in to
> a proprietary service/product rather than being free... my time is actually
> a limiting factor here and worth something if only to me.
> It would be nice to try this out on my own server but be able to migrate to
> a hosted service as needed (some aspect of scaling it up). So some
> preference for things that are or could be made to run in a cloud or hosted
> service.
> --bill
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