WTF Hockley, or Facebook and Instagram Redux

tl;dr I (re)joined Facebook and Instagram.

I used to be in both places. Then, almost a year ago, I wrote a bit about deciding to leave both social networks. Without rehashing that entire post, I’ll say that it came down to being opposed to the behaviors of the company.

In the past year we’ve seen that Facebook and Instagram have continued being less-than-perfect. Alternatives have sprung up such as Pressgram1. Google has started using personal data for explicit advertising, a la Facebook.

We’ve learned that the NSA is watching everything, regardless of company.

By the numbers, most folks are still on Facebook and Instagram when compared with alternative networks. Popularity isn’t everything, but it is something.

In the past several months I’ve had a few personal and a couple professional opportunities missed due to my non-Facebook and non-Instagram stance.

I’ve changed my mind. I’ve decided that while I still disagree with many things about how Facebook / Instagram does business, I suspect that the benefits of having a presence will outweigh potential downsides.

Was I wrong a year ago? Maybe. Am I right now? Maybe. Am I confident in those answers? Maybe.

We’ll see. Let’s be all social networky.

Follow my mobile photography on Instagramn (@hockleyphoto), or add me as a friend on Facebook.


  1. Which I will continue to use. 

Interesting Links Roundup: May 16th

As I wander the web I find interesting things. I share:

What have you seen lately that’s interesting?

Why I’m Bullish on Google+ Again

I joined Google+ on the day that it became available, and have always enjoyed the service. I generally find the web interface to offer a nice, visual view that allows me to easily connect with and browse the work of other photographers. It’s a much nicer experience that some other leading social networks.

While the Google+ web browser experience was pretty good, their mobile experience (at least on the iPhone) was pretty bad. There was a lot of wasted space, navigation was cumbersome, and some serious performance problems made it an onerous task to do something as simple as post a status update or share a photograph. My mobile photo sharing continued to focus on other applications while I mostly ignored Google+ when I was away from my desk.

The lack of a good mobile app led me to question how much time I’d spend with the service in the future. I became skeptical.

And then last week, this happened:

Google+ photo display Google+ photo display

An update to the iPhone app brings a new, beautiful photo-centric display which makes browsing a Google+ steam a very nice experience… arguably even better than the Instagram stream which now looks a bit plain by comparison. It’s easy to +1 photos (just tap on the + count), easy to comment, and the performance when posting new items is improved. In short, Google got this mobile experience right. Mobile photography is a big deal ($1 billion for Instagram, anyone?), and a beautiful mobile experience represents a big plus (pun intended) for Google.

There’s one big piece that’s missing (still): an API for third-party apps. My current mobile photo workflow involves using Camera Awesome to upload mobile photos to SmugMug and then cross-post to social services (sometimes Twitter, sometimes Facebook, sometimes Instagram). If I could post the images easily to Google+ as well, that would be a huge time-saver that could only increase my usage of Google+ while on the go.

I’m on the fence about switching to Google+ as my primary mobile social network (instead of Instagram). The API would make it easier, but it’s not too bad now with the new app. There’s a local Instagram meetup in a few days; I’m curious to hear what other Instagram users think about the new Google+ interface…

Join me?

My Photo Sharing / Social Network Wish List

We’re in a bit of flux right now in the photo sharing space. Flickr, the powerhouse for several years, has stagnated and in the meantime Facebook became a daily destination for most of the internet. Facebook now hosts far more photos than anywhere else, but serious photographers (both pros and hobbyists alike) are yearning for a great way to store, share, and discuss their images.

Looking upward at a large skylight feature in the center of the main library in San FranciscoWith a variety of photo sharing websites in play, it seems that photographers haven’t yet found their ideal social network.

What might 2012′s perfect photo social network look like?

My Ideal Photo Sharing/Social System

Here’s what I’d like to see. My ideal photo network…

  • …is accessible via the web
  • …has great native apps for iOS and Android devices.
  • …has an open API so that developers can build support into other third-party apps.
  • …allows for easy sharing of images in an embeddable format on the web.
  • …allows for easy sharing of images via other social networks (Twitter, Facebook, etc).
  • …allows me to easily follow other photographers and see their latest images.
  • …allows me to put said photographer contacts into arbitrary lists (so that I can categorize them).
  • …allows me to specify a license for my photos.
  • …has a way to view the most popular recent photos on the site.
  • …allows users to setup groups around a common theme or interest, with the groups allowing for shared images and discussions.
  • …provides optional integration with a professional lab so that I can sell my photos (at a price I set) as prints.
  • …allows me to sell digital versions of my images.
  • …allows me to create a profile page where I an introduce myself and link to my other online places.
  • …doesn’t look like crap (yes, this is totally subjective, but it matters).

Right now, no single photo sharing site/network meets all of these criteria. Some come close. Arguably, Flickr is the closest, with the mobile experience being the big stumbling point. One can also debate where it resides in the “looking like crap” category, but recent updates such as the contacts page are a move in the right direction. Earlier today, Thomas Hawk argued that Google should buy Flickr. It’s an interesting thought, but with Flickr’s major shortcoming being the mobile experience, and the Google+ mobile apps being nearly worthless for photo sharing/browsing, I’m not sure that’s a perfect match.

What do you think? Did I leave any essential features off of my list? How do you want to share your images?

Interesting Links Roundup: April 16th

As I wander the web I find interesting things. I share:

What have you seen lately that’s interesting?

On Facebook, Instagram, and Me

Facebook logoI generally don’t hide the fact that I loathe Facebook. The company has repeatedly made moves which aren’t good for the internet, yet somehow has convinced most of the world that they should spend hours each week participating on the Facebook website. I reluctantly use the service since it’s a way to keep up with some people who, for various reasons, don’t use the rest of the internet.

Until last Monday, I was a big Instagram fan. I actively used the service, enjoying the photo-based social network. And then Facebook bought Instagram.

Instagram IconI stopped using Instagram and haven’t uploaded any photos since the acquisition. I didn’t go as far as deleting my account, but I wanted to spend some time thinking about what a Facebook-owned Instagram would mean, and whether or not I wanted to participate in such an endeavor.

While I’m pretty sure that Facebook will find some way to screw up Instagram, I’m going to continue as an Instagram user for the time being. The social network component of Instagram has no equal and I want to continue participating with the individuals I’ve met via the app. Although I’d love to quit Instagram on principle, there isn’t another viable photography social network where I can interact and share at the level that’s possible via Instagram.

I will also be uploading all of my mobile photos to a SmugMug gallery so that I’ll have a copy of my images in the event that Facebook does something stupid.

Feel free to add me on Instagram, my username is aaronhockley.