In praise of photoshare…

I was at a Web 2.0 for Good seminar last night run by London based consultancy, Policy Unplugged. There were some great conversations about collaboration and knowledge sharing online and some fascinating people. Web 2.0 is code for clever applications that allow people to put together resources that are much greater than the sum of the parts. Our Flickr group is a perfect example of that, with people posting all manner of stuff from reportage to humour to semi abstracts to landscapes to mundane politics. It has accumulated 139 members posting 1,856 photos of Northern Ireland in just over a year.

  • It was great to meet you at the Web 2.0 event yesterday Mick. Very much appreciated your input about blogging and engagement and have been very interested to view this excellent blog today.
    Amanda Bowens

  • Slugger O’Toole writing about Web 2.0? Things can’t be *that* quiet in Norn Iron 🙂


  • Two questuions seeking answers:

    1. Given that a photo is supposed to go a ling way, what “good” do all the fine photos do. not just on your flickr thread but on the www in general?
    2. I watched Indymedia on the Afghan hunger strikers in Xt Church in Dublin. A few locals, nattily dressed in clean trainers and tracker knacker gear, were slagging off the Afghans’ supporters. The Indymedia audio and other bloggers insisted on calling these young local kids racists. What good does crap like that do?

    We can all agree that the Net, like TV before it, can be a great harbinger for change. But will it and can it? Is Big Broteher and Reality 2.0 the next wave?

  • Mick Fealty


    Thanks for your kind words.


    We do occasionally take the foot off the parish political pedal and take time to consider what’s changing around us. 😉


    What good? That is a good question. It doesn’t naturally do good of its own volition. What it changes is the perspective. Reality 2.0 represents a network or matrix containing multiple subjectivities.

    Real time events can be caught by several citizen photographers/journalists, not simply the one that appeals to newspaper eds all over the world.

    The Dublin riots, for instance, produced two effects.

    One lots of people taking photos of the same events pick up some shocking individual acts, but also that for a large part of the time, nothing much was happening, and just how small the crowd was. The point is that you decide yourself.

    Two, some of the material is being used by the Gardai to ‘help them with their inquiries’. A lot of people don’t realise that even though most 2.0 tools are casual and conversational in nature, they leave a permanent mark.

    Both of these things may be either good or bad depending on your perspective – but they change the context in which receive the information in the first place.

  • Mick,

    Interested to hear you liked the seminar. We ran a similar one at Demos ( last week & it raised a few questions, particularly in relation to the key difficulty with Web 2.0 – no one seems to agree on exactly what it is. I like your explanation, and feel it is thorough, but was surprised by the lack of consensus at our event. Still, we remain convinced, and are re-launching our website in a gutsy attempt to live our values of participation and democracy at the end of June. Keep an eye out – completely based on knowledge sharing and collaborative learning it’s web 2.0 (as we know it) in action.

  • Mick Fealty


    Sorry I missed you.

    The lack of consensus is appropriate, I think. The top and tail of this whole thing is emergent and unpredictable, and therefore often unsettling to people inside institutions who are more accustomed to thinking in terms of linear campaigns. I know the organisers put a lot of effort into giving introductory information to give people an ‘in’ to the basic idea.

    I’m pleased to see that the debate is now shifting from blogging towards all manner of technologies which replicate the levelling effects that blogging has had – online at least.

    What’s interesting (and possibly important) is the increasing number of mainstream businesses that are recognising the advantages of engaging with ‘amateur-driven’ technologies – ie getting into conversations rather than simply watching them remotely.

    What a lot of organisations/companies/politicians sometimes miss is that if they join in, they can have strong effects on the nature of the conversations taking place. And it is not always a case of laboriously fielding criticisms. I get the impression that some of those contemplating going into blogging are doing so with their eyes scrunched up and closed, as if waiting for a nasty impact.

    Honest and authoritative interventions can be powerful and transformative, especially when they are prepared to accept that the ride will sometimes be a bit rough.

  • I feel there are some other issues here:
    1. The advantage of the blog, slugger being an excellent example, is that the blogger retains ultimate editorial control, without which there can be little of value.
    2. The tactics of the BBC and Guardian are very interesting in this respect. The BBC be one of the best sites in the world; it has poured vast resources into the web, has synergies, and is embracing as it happens photos and comments, as for exsmple, the 7/7 London bombs. The Guardian, coopting bloggers, is surpassing on line The Telegraph, which was/is Britain’s premier broadsheet.
    3. One wonders, when the dust settles, if the web will revert towards those sites. In the early days, there were massive cricket sites whioh sponsored cricket internationals. But now Indian sub continent cricket heads get their cricket at Indian media sites.
    4. I wonder, would Web 2.0’s lack of a central “brain”, lead Rupert Murdoch et al to coopt it over time? Will the hubs prevail?
    5. Let’s also take Slugger’s Flickr photos. A great resource but is there a trade off in amassing masses of photos and deploying them? The Cain website, for example, has oodles of background information on the Troubles. But htat is a non dynamic niche market.
    6. The web has lots more people talking and the McIlveen bebo events were enlightening in htat respect. But market forces will eventually prevail and voices of dissent go into the slow lane.

  • Mick,

    Sorry for taking ages to get back – have been messing around on the wrong slugger site for some reason. Thanks for your comments, all of them very valid. I agree wholeheartedly that’s its about business/politicians etc. taking part in the conversation and (horror of horrors!) actually learning something from it. My one small, and hopefully unfounded, concern is about the ability of PR to take over. I know that the very nature of blogging and other tools suggest that it’s unlikely, but I can’t help but think that where there’s a will there’s a way, and there is definitely a will.

    My concern stems from another conference I was at recently in London entitled ‘delivering the new PR’, it was a great conference and a super introduction to anyone unfamiliar with the latest tools but keen to use them. The questions got me though – ‘is it ok for me to ghost blog for my CEO?’, ‘If we give products to celebrity bloggers can we screen what they say before it goes up?’ (??!). Worrying…

    Nonetheless I do think that real bloggers will win, as most of the speakers pointed out – using the infamous loreal example as an illustration of corporate blogging gone wrong.

    On the political side you have to hand it to David Miliband, I hope this is the future.

  • Mick Fealty


    We had some self inflicted problems with code over the weekend, so had to bring theblogspot site back into play temporarily. Sorry.

    The PR question is relevant to some of our experience here on Slugger. It doesn’t really apply to the top end of the Slugger output, though it might become an important concern if/when draw significant income from advertisers sponsors.

    Flagrant attempts to put a *false* spin on a story (even in the comments zone) in the blogosphere are doomed to failure. That’s a lot to do with the network effect the blogosphere has on core messages. Sound stories, however, fly and they can get around the screening process of the MSM.

    I had an interesting chat with one senior party insider a few years back who asked me whether I thought his party’s rivals were in earnest. When I refered a number of initiatives they had undertaken as some indication of bona fides, he replied, ‘yeah, but that’s just PR’.

    My response was that for all parties, organisations and companies good PR is when you actually do what say what you are going to do. “Just PR”, is crap PR – and bloggers with a weathered eye for a given sector or set of public concerns know it, and don’t mind calling it from the rooftops.

    It gets you in the end. In the corporate world, Orange comes to mind with its yearly promise of delivery of the video phone. In truth they were no closer to it than their rivals, but it got them some cache for a time. In the end the brand as a future friendly promise simply hollowed itself out.

    Bloggers are not responsible for such corrosion as such. It might happen anyway over time. But they can hasten its timeframe.

  • Mick Fealty


    Lots of interesting stuff there. Much of what you ask I have no answers to. The photo share, on one hand, is an emphemeral thing. Only a small number of the latest photos get flashed up on Slugger. But each photo potentially has a life of it’s own, through tagging and multiple group membership. It can also come into its own in terms of politics and current affairs when we have contentious events like the Dublin riots, and indeed the marching season.

    That’s where the multiplicity of views comes in again. Traditionally we get our pics from the professional observer’s viewpoint. Photoshare offers us a participant’s and/or amateur observer’s view of the same events. For those with a vested interest in getting the wider public to view any given event in a certain way, it is relatively straightforward (if not always easy) to deal with a solid corpus of the press. Much more complicated to deal with people you don’t know may be capturing the original scenes from angles you’d rather the public didn’t see.

    As for Murdoch and potential ‘privatisation’ of the open commons of the net, I don’t see it happening that way. If you look at the false investments made by Vodafone (£16 billion lost value through depreciating acquistions in a year it also made an operating profit of £8 billion), there is a warning there for people like Murdoch who may be looking for a quick ‘in’ to a space that is even less predictable than the mobile market has proved.

    That said, I don’t think any of us should take the current openness for granted.

  • In case you were wondering, I have just removed upwards of 15 posts, which largely consisted of a row between a number of other bloggers already extant on several other blogs.

  • I am shocked and disgusted that this squabble and temper tantrum has breached the sanctity of Slugger.

    When I come onto slugger I want to see people squabbling over who did what 200 years ago and what aboutery.

    I am shocked that Mick actually allowed this to spill over in here.

  • Garibaldy

    I’m more annoyed that I missed most of the squabbling

  • Mick- I was interested in the name of the conference you speak of. It seems that the company which coined the term ‘Web 2.0’ are none too happy about other groups/ organisations using the term for their own events. There’s been a bit of a squabble going on down south over the matter, which I covered here:

    It raises interesting questions about ownership of the web, and the phraseology which accompanies it.

  • Slugger O’Toole Admin

    Jimmy, I really had no idea about the whole thing till it spilled over here. It looked plausible to me on first sight.

  • “When I come onto slugger I want to see people squabbling over who did what 200 years ago and what aboutery.

    Hear hear. Hurray for circular arguments about the badness of themmuns 😉