Thing 11 (Week 5): Photosharing with Flickr


Image created by Spell with Flickr, using Flickr One Letter pool. For LOADS more Flickr goodness, visit FD's FlickrToys and Great Flickr Tools.


Most of the photos and images on this wiki come from the Flickr Creative Commons collection. In Thing 10, you learned how Creative Commons allows users to publish their original work on the web, and give legal permission to others to use, adapt and remix the work. Flickr Creative Commons currently includes over 265 million photos, shared by users all over the world. Flickr is far from the only photosharing site, and in the last couple of years years, social photosharing has exploded due to the saturation of smartphones and the ease of uploading photos via services such as Instagram. What I love about Flickr, though, is that it's designed to be a community that allows people to USE each others' works (via Creative Commons licensing, tagging, search and download tools) -- it's about the photos, not just about sharing moments of your digital life.

What, pray tell, is Flickr?
In a nutshell, Flickr is the Web's most popular photo-sharing site. Let's begin as usual with a little insight from our friends at CommonCraft.

Online Photo Sharing in Plain English (2:51)

DIRECT LINK to the video:

IMPORTANT! Tagging and Folksonomies - Two Defining Attributes of Web 2.0

So, online photo-sharing has been around for over a decade, but sites like Flickr offer more than just a place to store your photos and share them with family and friends through email or social media. Flickr is a searchable, social, user-driven community. The social power of Flickr comes from tagging, which is the process of adding meaningful keywords to photos (or any type of content). If you’ve ever used a subject heading in a library catalog or written names or places on the back of a photograph, you’re already familiar with tagging! Flickr's public photo tags are visible to the whole community, so the entire collection becomes organized and categorized, searchable and browsable. Flickr users can also comment on each others' photos and create Groups to develop shared photo collections, such as the One Letter pool I mentioned above, and have photo-related discussions or design projects (such as Tell a Story in Five Frames).

Photo tagging is an example of a folksonomy, an important Web 2.0 concept that refers to the collaborative organizing of content by everyday users. Unlike a highly structured, professionally developed and controlled taxonomy (such as library subject headings), a folksonomy evolves over time, as more users add more tags to more content. Tagging is a bit messy, can be very individualized, and is non-hierarchical (i.e. there are no "sub-tags"); For example, a photo of your dog may be tagged as dog, beagle, rover and even cute if that means something to you. (Also, tags cannot have spaces, e.g. chocolate chip cookie is actually three tags, whereas chocolate_chip_cookie (or chocolatechipcookie) is one tag).

The concept of tagging is not unique to Flickr. Many Web 2.0 services incorporate tagging to add user-defined value and organization. Bloggers typically tag their posts, and clicking on their tags may take you to a listing of all of their own posts tagged as such, or possibly a listing of ALL KNOWN blog entries tagged as such, e.g. through a service such as Technorati, which currently tracks over 100 million blogs. In Week 7, we will learn about Social Bookmarking and use a service called Diigo to search for, store and organize Internet bookmarks/favorites using tags.

You may recall that in the Thing 2 video, The Machine is Us/ing Us, in reaction to the explosion of digital content on the Web, Michael Wesch asks the question: "Who will organize all this data?" His answer (the answer): We will (using TAGS!)

SIDEBAR: Visual Literacy is Essential
photo by Tighten Up!

This "Thing" is not meant to be a primer on Visual Literacy, but such a critical skill set shouldn't go unmentioned. For our students to be visually literate in the 21st Century, they must be able to "interpret, use, appreciate, and create images and video using both conventional and 21st Century media in ways that advance thinking, decision-making, communication and learning" (Engauge - Digital Age Literaciesvia David Jakes). As you explore Flickr, I hope you will consider how you might incorporate more visual literacy-building activities into your teaching, and also how you can teach your students about Creative Commons, because, believe me, they don't know.

Here is a brief outline of reasons for Communicating Visually in the 21st Century from David Jakes; Please visit JakesOnline for suggestions about using online resources (including Flickr) to improve students' visual literacy skills. If you are interested, check out Dan Meyer's (dy/dan) blog series about design and visual literacy, in which he ultimately challenges educators to submit a four-slide presentation "selling" themselves a la the UC Graduate School of Business. The submissions and the dialogue are both provocative and compelling. The four posts in the series: Chicago Hope / Misunderstanding Chicago / Contest: The Four-Slide Sales Pitch / Four-Slide Sales Pitch: Final Entries (If you are short on time, just check out the final entries -- they are pretty cool).

Discovery Exercise

¤ NOTE: This "Thing" does not require you to JOIN Flickr, but you are certainly welcome/encouraged to do so if you please -- a good place to start is the official Flickr Tour.

¤ BIGGER NOTE: Please be mindful as you explore Flickr that not all images are free to use! Just because you know how to download it doesn't mean you have unfettered permission to use it. Many Flickr users allow anyone to view their photos, but do not provide explicit up-front permission for you to use them. The good news is, Flickr currently has over 265 million images licensed under Creative Commons, and also, many Flickr photographers will graciously give permission for educational use of their photos if you ask them. Incidentally, this same concept holds true for Google or other image searches -- just because you can download it doesn't mean it's yours to use. We (educators, citizens, decent people) are responsible for honoring copyright, seeking permission, citing sources, understanding what constitutes FAIR USE, and for teaching these essential ethics to our students.

On with it...

PART 1: Conceive of a simple story (or explanation) you could tell using 4-10 photos (~30-45 min)
Create a brief script/storyboard however you like. Use this AWESOME site for inspiration:

PART 2: Find some Creative Commons Licensed photos in FlickrCC (~30 min)
Search Flickr Creative Commons to find 4-10 photos to help you tell the story you want to tell.
  1. Make sure you understand how to search for Creative Commons photos. (This is different from a regular Flickr search!)
  2. Download the ORIGINAL or LARGE (somewhere close to 1024x768) size of each photo (easiest to save them all to a single folder on your desktop).
  3. Be sure to record the photo page URL and photographer's username (see STEP 5) so that you can give proper credit. You could paste/record these into the bottom of your wiki sandbox page or onto a Word or Google document -- just be sure to save them!. You will be invited to use these images to create a digital story in Thing 12.

‡ HELP Page: Flickr Creative Commons Search (you must follow these steps to ensure you are searching for, downloading and providing proper credit for Creative Commons-licensed photos). The "regular search box" in Flickr is NOT a Creative Commons search!

¤ PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT to view the help page linked here and immediately above for searching Creative Commons photos. If you don't see "Showing Creative Commons-licensed content..." above your search results, then you are using the "regular" Flickr search box, which searches ALL photos and not CC-only.

PART 3: Explore some Educational Possibilities for Flickr (~30 min)
You can't help it, you are teachers, and you want to know about the educational possibilities of Flickr. For a mere start, explore some of these resources and examples:

Collections of Ideas

Individual Lessons/Examples

A Quick Word About Photo-Posting Etiquette
When posting identifiable photos of other people (especially minors), is it advisable to get the person's permission before posting their photo in a publicly accessible place like Flickr. Never upload pictures that weren't taken by you (unless you have the photographer's consent) and always give credit (and a link) when you include photos taken by someone else in your blog, wiki, slide presentation or digital story.

Further Resources (provided for your reference)

Select one of the photos you downloaded in Part 2 above (or any other Flickr CC photo you like). Insert the photo by upload, so that it appears WITHIN a blog post in which you reflect on your Flickr experience. Please share some things you learned about Flickr and any ideas you have for using Flickr (or other photo sharing tool) to support your own teaching and learning and students' learning. Be sure to post an attribution -- or, credit -- to the photographer, in the form of his or her username and a link to the photo page on Flickr -- see video). Be sure to include "Thing 11" in your post title.

‡ HELP Video: Upload a picture from your computer and insert in a blog post
‡ Edublogs HELP: Inserting images into posts (from your computer)