Photo-sharing Fatigue

Photo-sharing gets a bad rap in startup worlds. The conventional wisdom is that there are too many and that bright entrepreneurs should work on something more significant than “just another photo-sharing app.” Douchebag investors pontificate about how bright founders should use their gifts to solve hard and valuable problems. This obviously implies that photo-sharing isn’t hard or valuable.

For me, I don’t have any fatigue when it comes to photos or “photo-sharing” apps. The reality is that photos are the new cheap, abundant data. And cheap, abundant data leads to or is a foundation of big technical breakthroughs. I am speculating here but I would imagine that applications like Google Earth, self-driving cars, Google Glass, etc. all rely on the explosion of abundant, freely available photo data.

Another take on this is that “another photo-sharing” app is just another way of communicating or expressing oneself. When it comes to communication, a good friend pointed out that photos were actually one of the first forms of communication (as used by the ancient Egyptians and hieroglyphics). Brian Pokorny predicted three years ago about how photos would be a new mode of communication. People communicate using text in many different ways – email, IM, messaging, blogs, comments, etc. One can only imagine that the same could happen with photos and there will new, imaginative ways to use photos as the unit of communication.

On the self-expression front, one only needs to look at the different ways that text is used for self-expression or story-telling. The novel, short story, magazine article (long or short), blog, tweet, etc. all tell stories in different ways. And text was the first type of cheap, abundant data that led to software breakthroughs like PageRank, machine learning, etc. One can only imagine the different ways that photos can be used to tell different stories using technology and software.