For parents of young kids, like my wife and me, photos have become an inextricable part of how we think about our family, both within our household and amongst all of our relatives. Photo documentation for the benefit of all of our loved ones — grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins, family friends of all kinds — is now a part of raising kids in a way that it never was before the advent of the digital camera.
In some ways, it’s easier than ever for us to get images of our kids to those who care about them most, but in other ways it’s still much harder than it should be, too. I know for a fact that the sheer number of venues for sharing has made it difficult for my parents and in-laws to keep up with the images that Laura and I post to Facebook, Flickr, Instagram and other services. And truth be told, even I frequently miss some of the photos that Laura posts, too.
I started thinking about this problem last fall; why shouldn’t it be possible to knit these services together via email, the most universally accessible channel that we have? All we’d really need to solve this problem would be an automated service that rounds up all of the kid-related content that Laura and I post each week and then sends it out in a summary email. It wouldn’t require either of us to post to any new services or change our current sharing behaviors, and it would only ask our relatives to do something they’re already doing: check their email. It seemed like something that really ought to exist.
After talking this problem through with my friends Matt and Mike and finding that everyone we asked thought it was a good idea, we decided to go ahead and build it for real. Today we’re pre-announcing Kidpost, a service which bundles up your kid-related content from your social network accounts into a private, weekly email that gets sent to family members and friends of your choosing.
We’re deep in development for it right now, but our ambition for Kidpost is to build something incredibly simple and lightweight. Once you authorize Kidpost to access your various accounts, it will simply watch for posts that you tag appropriately, and will aggregate them automatically. That’s all you have to do. As the account holders, parents control the content of the emails and who receives them — you can add as many people as you like to your email group, and the recipients don’t need to sign up for new accounts or download apps or visit a new service of any kind.
Kidpost will be ready this spring, but as we build it we want to solicit feedback from interested parents and relatives. If you sign up on our home page now, we’ll give you early access, and we’ll also give you a discount on the paid plan when it launches. Just head on over to Kidpost.net. And watch this space for future updates!
A bummer of a coincidence from yesterday: after using Everpix for several months and enjoying it immensely, I decided to pony up for the US$49 annual fee. Hours later, I happened to read that Everpix is shutting down. A note signed by the Everpix team said: “We were unable to secure sufficient funding in order to properly scale the business, and our endeavors to find a new home for Everpix did not come to pass. At this point, we have no other options but to discontinue the service.”
Possibly losing forty-nine dollars doesn’t bother me so much, since Everpix promises to refund all of its subscribers (they hope to do this by 15 Dec). It’s the fact that Everpix was a terrific product that in many ways fit the bill for what I think a modern photo experience should be: an inexhaustible storage locker in the cloud that effortlessly backs up my photos from every source.
Facebook, Twitter, Path, Instagram, my phone’s camera roll, even pics that people sent to me via MMS; Everpix comprehensively backed up all of these sources to the Web and made them navigable through an intelligently self-organizing and elegantly designed web interface. It was really a pleasure to use, especially its Flashback feature, which would send me daily emails to remind me of photos taken a year or two ion the past.
This photo I put on on Instagram last week turned out to be one of my more liked posts.
Though I’m a sporadic Instagram user, I think it’s an amazing product. Their early selection of the square photo format was a genius response to the constraints of the camera phone and a spot on insight into how to simplify photo composition for a mass audience.
All the same, I often lament the success of the Instagram square. Rectangles just make pictorial storytelling more interesting. Here’s how I would have cropped the same image in a portrait-oriented frame. (I had to recreate the vintage effects, so they don’t match the photo above perfectly.)
I’m not arguing that Instagram should allow portrait images. I’m just saying the world is more interesting than just squares.
When Flickr released a major update to its iPhone app last week, it seemed to jolt the long-neglected photo sharing network back to life. Suddenly, my activity stream was lighting up with scores of new contacts (I guess they got rid of the term “followers”?), a level of commotion that I hadn’t seen from Flickr in a long, long time.
But, over the past few days of using the app, I’ve noticed that this new activity is worryingly shallow. The vast majority of what I see is people adding me as a contact, but there seems to be little engagement beyond that. For example, Sunday night I posted this photo of my daughter at her ballet recital. As of this morning, it had received just a few dozens views, one favorite and no comments. For comparison, I posted the same image, with the requisite filtering and cropping, to Instagram this morning. Within a few hours, it already had twice as many favorites and several comments.