If flickr.com is not the world’s largest photo archive, I’d like to know what is. On November 10, 2007, the two billionth image was uploaded to the flickr website. As vast as the holdings of the various national archives around the world are, I would be amazed to learn that any of them held more than 100 million images.
Scoff if you will at the usefulness of the vast majority of these images (which are heavily weighted toward personal snapshots) but social historians regularly lament the dearth of good sources on daily life of average people. I’d say that 2 billion images from average people is a pretty good starting point for future social historians.
But, as Bill Turkel has written in a variety of posts, the information costs of an archive like this can be prohibitive. Flickr.com offers a number of ways to start sorting through the vastness (tags, clusters, groups, pools, etc.), but these are search and locate tools and/or social networking tools–not analytical tools.
For historians to take full advantage of the vastness of the new photo archives like flickr.com, we’re going to need some good algorithms to help.
5 thoughts on “World’s Largest Photo Archive?”
Insanely Facebook has over twice as many, last I checked in the neighborhood of 4 billion images. Of course the issues with searching Facebook are even more hairy, and to many the value of this collection could seem much more dubious. But if this pile of images was archived for posterity historians of the future would have a even richer, and even more imposing digital mountain of photos to dig through.
Trevor is correct that Facebook has twice as many photos as Flickr, boasting they have more photos than all photo sharing websites combined.
If you’re measuring the “largest image archive” based upon the number of images, then Facebook wins. If you were to only include “public” images, then I’m not sure Facebook has such a monopoly, given the privacy settings some users give. The openness of Flickr creates a much more useful environment for finding specific photos, and sharing them with anyone who can then mash them up with anything else.
Do we have an idea how many users Flickr has? I’ve always thought of the site itself as a sort of tech-savvy sharing site (with the same users creating 50 image sets at a time), rather than something that’s mainstream like Facebook, Photobucket, or Kodak’s Easyshare website. I thought Photobucket was the largest internet sharing website based upon its number of users, with many Myspace, Facebook, and Blogger users having accounts to remotely store their images.
You are going to need more than algorithms. You are going to need to overcome some pretty serious prejudices about what constitutes a legitimate source. Given how long it took the academy to accept the cultural analysis of images as legitimate history, I wonder how long we can wait for historians to embrace these sources.
Regarding the Flickr/Facebook thing, I have also seen Flickr used to upload historical images of use to historians today. For example, see the blog, Investigations of a Dog, http://www.investigations.4-lom.com/ and look for his label about World War One on Web 2.0. Besides using tools like Google Maps, he is uploading family photographs to Flickr.
i work for this company call I.F.D.C. we have thouslands of slide and negaative, we want to set up a archive. I need help on how to start and what equipment I will need. If you can give me any ideals on what I need to do please let me know you can Call me at 256- 381-6600 Ex 249 MY name is Charles Butler
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