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Friday, April 11, 2008

Crowd mentality and the lack of ideas

I don't understand something. Why do highly respected organisations always jump on board the same boat? I would think that there are enough intelligent and creative individuals in there who would be able to "shake the boat", to extend the metaphor's use.

Case in point: an upcoming website has -- wait for it -- another photo-uploading service! Oh my goodness! How many such services are there already? And more importantly, why is this particular website including it? The response was that the future plans call for it to be used to
  1. teach people how to use other photo-uploading sites, and
  2. build a photo library to be used for, err, research.
Granted, part one of their rationale sounded logical. A lot of photo services, like Flickr and Picasa, may be too complex for "the other 60%". So maybe there is a point in this exercise. You know, instead of just teaching them to use Flickr.

Aside: And why are organisations always quick to say it'll be too difficult to form partnerships, e.g. with Yahoo! Flickr? Did anyone actually pick up the phone to ask? Or send a friendly e-mail?

But assuming that this website's version is easier to use, which it is because of its stripped down capabilities. And assuming that it succeeds at the second part of its rationale, i.e. as part of a, err, catalogue. Further, let me assume that it has successfully targeted at the 60% to use its service. The issue then is:
  • Does this 60% own digital cameras or have access to one, including mobile phones?
  • Do they own computers or have access to one?
  • Do they know how to upload the photos to their computers?
I have a nagging feeling that the organisation is going after a very small, very inaccessible group.

On the other hand, a small part of me is quietly confident that the muckamucks have done their homework and found that this is, indeed, a viable market. In addition, these muckamucks have done their research about their partners' capabilities in using its photo library for educational efforts, e.g. making use of the photos in projects, instead of assuming that their hypothesis is correct.

Will Singaporeans bite? In this, I am actually very confident that they will. The Straits Times' STOMP is proof of it. It has successfully made a viable market of making very public use of amateur photos, and no one has apparently batted an eyelid. Perhaps that's another cue that this organisation took.



Unknown said...

Hi Yuhui, I'll take your bait and respond to your post. Let's be upfront and say the "highly respected organisation" is NLB, and the photo-uploading service is the Just Share feature at the public library website, shall we? :)

As one of the "muckamucks" who's involved in developing the Just Share photo uploading feature, I'm actually not sure if Singaporeans will use the service. But I guess enough people were convinced that we should just experiment. We agonized over the same questions and assumptions as you mentioned. Besides, don't people tend to say us gahmen folks are afraid to take risks? Believe me, rolling out this feature is a risk (but not so risky that we're being frivilous with taxpayers money, rest assured).

Our work has just started. We'll be looking into physical programmes and activities, to work with "the other 60%" who aren't aware of Flickr, Picasa, Photobucket etc. So that they make a step closer towards Digital Literacy.

Thanks for your confidence. We need all the support we can get. Cheers.

[Views expressed are my own; they do not necessarily represent the official views of my employer]

Yuhui said...

Hey Ivan,

Yeah, okay, I was talking about the new's Just Share feature. And it's comforting to know that you did grapple with the same issues before deciding that this was a worthwhile venture.

Haha, it's funny how you said that the gahmen was willing to take a risk on this, yet did not (seem to) attempt to contact Yahoo or Google about a possible tie-up.

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