Well now you know:
Anyone who’s dug around in the “Everyone’s photos” section of Flickr has probably realized that the people who submit pictures to the site come from all over the world but oddly enough, up until now, Flickr has only ever had an interface in English.
I noticed the other day that there was a new title bar across the top of the screen offering up the fact that Flickr was now available in a multitude of languages.
On top of English, Flickr is now available in French, German, Korean, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Traditional Chinese. Localized interfaces are something that, more often than not, I’ve found the Web 2.0 apps are lacking. Most are aimed squarely at US English speaks and that’s it.
Screencap: Franz Patzig
Amusingly enough the trend that has emerged is companies in foreign countries creating the same tool but in their local language. A German-based Digg clone was acquired for many millions – a huge number when you consider it was a market that the company could likely have served for want of some localization work and global thinking. Instead they left the door open for someone else to walk right into their market, leverage their effort and ideas and then take a huge chunk of money off the top as they get acquired.
Any company that offers a software product, thick client or web-based, should take these types of lessons as a reminder of the importance of thinking beyond North America’s borders.
Being the news hound that I am I immediately checked out one of the local TV station sites where, about an hour after the fire started they finally had exactly three photos up, all pretty much showing the same thing.
Unsatisfied, and in a whim of “I wonder if….”, I pulled up Flickr and typed “Sassafraz” into the search field. Up popped a dozen photos of the fire, some of them far superior to what the media had released up until that point. (See current results here – there’s now 2 and a half pages of photos). If I were a professional news photographer this would send a shiver down my spine.
I brought this incident up last night at the TorCamp get together as, what I considered, a good example of just how much things are shifting in the media space. Some discussion was had around Scoopt, who takes consumer/non-professional photos and try and license them to mainstream media – They also have just started making a push to try and get Flickr users to proactively start feeding them photos.
Then someone asked the question that had never occurred to me – “Why hasn’t Flickr gone down that route?”
When you stop and think about it Flickr is sitting on top of a gold mine of material – what would it really take for them to essentially add a “License this Photo” to the photo view (alongside the “Blog This” etc.). There’d be some upfront work in sorting out license agreements (Exclusive/Non-Exclusive/Length of Terms etc.). People could opt out or not enable the feature on their photos if they wished but if they distilled it down similar to what the Creative Commons guys did it could be a really sweet addition to their suite of products that allows both themselves and the users earn some extra bucks. I know I’d be more inclined to try it out.