Flickr between Communities and Commerce

José van Dijck

in The Culture of Connectivity

Published in print January 2013 | ISBN: 9780199970773
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199307425 | DOI:
Flickr between Communities and Commerce

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Online photo-sharing site Flickr was founded in 2004 and attracted millions of users before it experienced a substantial setback in popularity and user numbers. This chapter seeks to explore how Flickr’s failure as a platform may be the result of its wavering position. After its takeover by Yahoo! in 2005, Flickr moved back and forth between various platform functions: from community site to social network, from photo news site to memory service, from stock photography to archival service. Flickr’s vacillating movements reflect a contentious culture characterized by clashing notions of collectiveness versus connectivity, of commons versus commerce. But rather than diagnosing Flickr as a failed system, this chapter also highlights the site’s vocal user base of loyal detractors, who persistently steered the platform towards a community ethic, in spite of its corporate owner’s policies. In fact, this platform’s anatomy reflects a process of negotiation over the meaning of “public” versus “corporate.”

Keywords: Flickr; online photo-sharing; commons; collective memory; digital photography

Chapter.  9002 words. 

Subjects: Sociology

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