October 25, 2006 § Leave a comment
I didn’t know that Flickr came out of the design of an MMOG (massively multiplayer online game) called Game Neverending. In an interview with Jesse James Garrett, Eric Costello, one of the Ludicorp team who developed Flickr, talked about these origins.
It wasn’t an immersive environment at all. It had interfaces that were really like Web interfaces or desktop application interfaces. The mode of interaction between users was in IM [instant Messaging] windows……We did a couple of things in the UI that were kind of neat, I think. You had IM windows where you could drag a person from your contacts list into any chat window and it would invite them to join your conversation. You could also drag game objects into an IM conversation and it would send to all the other members of the chat an image of the object. So it was a way that you could share the things you found in this world with the people around you.
That feature was where the idea for Flickr came from. We thought, what if instead of game objects, you could drag and drop other digital objects into these conversations, like Word documents, or PDFs? Photos were the natural thing to go with because they’re more visual.
These ‘conversational’ origins have served Flickr’s ongoing development well in that there is hardly any ‘usability testing’, as developments happen they are sent out to users for feedback. Eric Costello says that the Flickr team provided spaces for conversation to happen then listened and learned from ‘…People talking to each other about the site [and] people talking directly to us about the site.’
If Museums are connected to a strong and influential community such as Flickr’s then the feedback they could potentially receive to various initiatives would surely be invaluable, not to mention the turn around for on acting on that feedback much quicker than it is now.
Another interesting point that arises here is that Flickr was an idea that started as something completely different. There is a wonderful potential for the connections and conversations that museums have with their visitors via sociable technologies to inspire new learning opportunities not yet envisaged…..we are heading into new territory.