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#004 Instagram

October 30, 2012

Since Instagram (IG) became a helpful resource to me over the last few days, during and after Hurricane Sandy, I’ll write about this app before all others. Facebook (FB) was intended to be the first app/webpage (wapage?) I was going to write about, since it has ~147 Katrillion users, versus Instagram having a fraction of that at about seven million active daily users. FB bought IG for, no kidding, a billion dollars after IG was in its infancy with about a dozen employees, thus sending its name and usership into the stratosphere.  With so many similar apps to Instagram, why did Zuckerberg, the 28yo CEO of FB give IG and its few owners more than twenty times the value of the New York Times for, well, a cute little app? My theory is he either a) owed somebody a really, really big favor, b) someone kidnapped his mother. girlfriend, or dog and were holding them ransom, or c) he actually thought it was worth it and it might pay off. I doubt C, but I digress.

Shall I dive down the same rabbit hole and cover point that’s been written about the inflated price paid for IG? Eh, that first paragraph covered it. Instead let me tell you why more benefit was derived from IG by me than FB: Despite being a registered non-user of both FB and IG, my searches for areas that were flooded during this hurricane and images of the flooded areas led to Instragram in many instances.  Those images helped me figure out where I could and could not travel (virtually nowhere, as I was stuck on Roosevelt Island), where power outages occurred and did not, and offered a bevvy of OMG! photos. They put in perspective how serious the subway flooding was, and thus clarified no, they would not be open in a day or two. It helped me figure out how I would be able to get my boy to school or to a relative’s house.

Perhaps if I were a heavy user of FB I may have seen and shared many of the same pics, and let people know on my wall that my boy and I were fine. Since posting personal points to a group at once still does not come easily or naturally to me, I emailed, texted and had calls with those who were concerned enough about me. Maybe I should have hopped on my FB account, but despite checking in once a month or so, I’m still dubious about sharing much of my personal life there. I know that’s difficult for younger people and even older heavy FB consumers to understand, and maybe if it becomes a habit for me, I’ll someday feel silly about hesitating… if I ever drink the Kool Aid.

For now, too many questions still abound for me about what rights to privacy and ownership I’ve signed away with their ever-changing terms of service (TOS). I’m partly concerned, partly paranoid, and largely hypocritical. Rare is the time I read a Privacy or TOS agreement, and one of my favorite tech writers, David Pogue at the NY Times essentially says if you’re worried about privacy, you better unplug your computer from the net, disconnect your phone, cancel your credit cards and such (I paraphrase). So largely, this hypocrite is perhaps just more familiar with my old ways of communicating and it’s hard to change apps. Mine is a couple of Ooma lines, text, and email. Maybe it will start to change when I do the FB entry.

For now, Instagram was my friend during or moreso after the hurricane. I came up with photos like the ones in this link that shocked me, as I’d not known my own city was so affected: http://leenks.com/gallery1961.htm (if someone can tell me how to send a link to a collection of Hurricane Sandy pics, please do!).

Okay, in reading up, I’ve discovered one cannot view their Instagram photos online, which seems a bit odd, given their ledger sheet. Instead IG steers you to a page of other apps/webpages that you then sign in and authorize the secondary site to have access to our Instagram site. I did so with Gramfeed, the first of the six webpages they listed. Who knows what I’m signing away at this point, but devil be damned! I’m going to view my pics online. I think. And share them! I think. Does this work?  http://www.gramfeed.com/jeremyjava1

Digging around their site for a bit, I see features I don’t plan to use, like Instameet. It’s a Meetup group for people to go out and take pictures together. Has anyone done this? Do you recommend it, if so? Why?

So without replicating IG’s FAQ’s, the gist is this: IG is a cool app for taking pictures and modifying them. The majority of filters or features I’ve seen thus far offer a nostalgic yellowing or maybe tilt shift, if I recall correctly. I like the look, and I like what I’ve done with few photos I have manipulated. It’s easy to share and upload the pics, and share with a friend or group.

Why is it considered hotter than Flickr, Picasa or Shutterfly or a score of other similar sites? Well, David Pogue, tech writer at the NY Times or Wired would be btr suited to compare every feature of each of the dozens and dozens of pic sharing apps, since they’re paid to know such things, but here are some of the highlights that people love:

Your homepage/screen shows your friends photo streams.

It’s well integrated with FB: You can comment on photos, as well as like them from the homepage/screen

The next tab over is a star; this allows you to hot/popular pics from around the network

The next tab is a heart which shows you two tabs: Following and News: News allow you to know who is following you and your pics, and comments/likes about your pics. Following lets you see your friends and their comments and activity.

The last tab shows setting, allows viewing of your pics and you’d click here to find new friends via FB or Twitter, or through you phone’s contact list.

I’ll make time to start uploading some pics, SOPs, or diagrams, but for now, the takeaway is you take a shot, add a filter or make other adjustments to your pic, add comments, location if desired and then email it to a person or group, or upload it to any number of SM sites like Tumblr, Foursquare, Twitter or FB, and you’re done.

My takeaway: Cynical. I appreciated the photos I found online during this hurricane. I enjoyed taking and playing with the photos I took of my son and his friends in the park and a few trees while hiking in Bear Mtn last week. Yet, I didn’t see where it was far and away that outstanding compared with other programs or services. Maybe it was a hit bc they put the “cool” nostalgic filters right up front as their primary filters? If so, that was a truly amazing, billion-dollar decision. If I missed some or many other points that I should’ve hit on, please do pipe in.

And I hope you and yours have fared well during this hurricane. G’nite all.

J

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