It's the Interface, Stupid

flickrI instantly hated the idea of Microsoft buying Yahoo!. Microsoft may be the big boys on the desktop, but they've always sucked at the web. Google and Yahoo either started or bought up most of the web sites and services that work, everything from YouTube to Gmail to Flickr. Microsoft has never launched a well-accepted web 2.0 web services suite, in fact, every time they attempt to compete they fail miserably.

Back in 2004, I fell in love (if you can fall in love with a web service) with Flickr. Flickr was founded by Ludicorp, a nice little Canadian company, and in 2004 I actually paid Flickr money for a pro account. I never pay for anything on the web, so the fact I was willing to hand over actual coin is all the evidence of my loyalty you need. This was something worth paying for, a photo sharing website that enhanced my life.

Why did Flickr work while many other photo sharing sites failed? Lord knows I tried several before falling for Flickr. What did Ludicorp do that Microsoft was never able to do? The answer is simple. It's the interface, stupid.

Flickr reflected a brilliant user interface that evolved into the epitome of Web 2.0 utilizing Ajax techniques that made one forget they were in a browser. Uploading pictures, tagging them, embedding them on the web and organizing ones photos isn't just easy, it's a pleasure. Flickr understands the importance of user interface and when they built a better mousetrap, passionate users followed in droves.

Flickr users aren't just users, they're part of a vibrant community. Creating passionate users is precisely what Microsoft fails at time and time again. Passionate users grow abundantly in such fertile ground. When Yahoo! bought Flickr, they understood what they had purchased and let it be. Other than forcing Flickr users to tie their accounts to a Yahoo! login, Yahoo! hasn't caused a single disruption in the force. Flickr is better than ever with several awesome upgrades of late. I'm happily sharing 4,713 photos right now, and it's all because of Flickr's interface.

If/when Microsoft buys Yahoo!, they'll own Flickr as well. I'm actually dreading this transition. I don't trust Microsoft to "let it be". They've proven time and time again that they don't get it. They don't lure passionate users because they don't do good user interface. If they end up with Flickr and don't announce plans to sell it to someone who cares, I'll leave the community.

I'll leave with my 4,713 photos and every ounce of my passion.

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I still have my Hotmail account from before Microsoft bought it. Yeah, they DEFINITELY didn't leave it be... and although I still have that same hotmail account, I'm definitely a gmail kinda guy.

February 2, 2008 @ 1:34 AM

Jason |

I think those of us less web savy (those of us more interested in content than design) are a little more "Meh, whatever"

Someone ought to define this "web 2.0" crap for us all.

February 2, 2008 @ 12:13 PM

Toronto Mike

I assure you, when I talk about user interface, it's not strictly the design I'm praising. It's the entire layer between the human being and the database.

"Meh, whatever" is precisely what's wrong with you kids! (shakes fist... snarls... refuses to get his OJ..)

February 2, 2008 @ 3:42 PM


::sigh:: I completely forgot about Flickr. :( I don't want microsoft to own flickr. I love my flickr. :(

February 2, 2008 @ 4:43 PM

Barbara Hall

1. There is no such thing as Web 2.0. There is no such new version of the Internet, and the aspects associated with Web 2.0 have been around for years. AJAX, you say? It hasn't replaced HTTP; that's still there, essential, and very much Web 1.0. Actually, just "Web".

People who bandy about techno-utopianist clich├ęs such as Web 2.0, advertise about themselves how easily they are influenced by marketing concepts and means of thought control.

So, as much as it may shatter dearly-held illusions, there is no Santa, no tooth fairy, and no Web 2.0.

Welcome back to earth!

2. It's amazing how loyal and emotionally attached some people can get to corporate creations. Dismayed at Microsoft? OK, I can see that. But no one's alarmed at the sensorship and privacy invasions of Google and Yahoo? Gmail and Flickr look pretty do they? I guess everyone's fine with the fact that Google tracks your every search on its beautiful search engine, and keeps a record of it forever. "I've got nothing to hide," you say? OK, I get that. Great. You're honest, decent, and not an enemy of the State. What happens if/when, sometime in the near-future, that which you legally do (and search for) in the present, is no longer so. What if your past internet activities are then scrutinised to expose wrongdoers according to laws in the future? You really think there will be a statute of limitations on the now-illegal activities during your freewheeling honeymoon with Google and Yahoo?

Even if this nasty scenario is somehow avoided, the fact remains that the price of your convenience and membership in the "community" of which you speak comes with complete loss of privacy. Your grandparents would have been horrified - not because they're not modern or tech-savvy, but because their generation witnessed full-blown fascism and other highly successful totalitarian regimes. They know/knew very well what is wrong with the State knowing your business.

It is also fact that Yahoo and Google decide, at will, without input from you, to stand in the way of human rights every time they prevent someone from accessing a specific website (like, in China,, or allow the exploitation of children (not in China, but rather, here) by using their likeness in advertising, even though those children had never agreed to do so. Oh, sorry, they were in photos on Flickr.

Don't you just love what Yahoo's done with it?

When it comes to Microsoft, Yahoo, Google and their like, I couldn't care less which of these rats merge, outsmart, or take one of their peers over with hostility. They can ALL bite me.

Perhaps the time has come for a veritable Web 2.0 and with it, the real (and much-needed) innovation of being aware of the privacy infringement, identitiy theft, and loss of individuality and freedom of critical thought has been a right proper epidemic amid users of Web 1.0 (which, as noted above, is what you are using right now).

By all means, enjoy the internet; it may however be prudent to not get into bed with the likes of Flickr - whoever may own it.

- This message was posted with google-analytics disabled -

June 8, 2008 @ 11:04 PM

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