Keeping Your Photos Your Photos

Remember back in the day when if you moved houses you needed to get a new telephone number, even if you stayed in the same city? Remember all those times you switched Internet service providers and needed get a new email address? In both cases we were victim to a close coupling of identifier (phone number, email address) with identified (us). Fortunately these are well on their way to becoming de-coupled; there’s a reason I’m and not

I think it’s time to start worrying about the same sort of thing for our remote media storage: as we pour our photos into Flickr and our video into YouTube, we’re also ceding the address of our media to someone else. My photos are @flickr, not @rukavina.

There’s some recognition in other digital domains that this is a Good Thing: FeedBurner, for example, has an upsell called MyBrand that, for $2.99/month, lets you have your RSS feed like at rather than

But this photo of mine (mine!) is @flickr, not @me. And as I blog it and email it and gradually insert it into the digital nervous system of the planet it becomes harder and harder to decouple from Brand Flickr.

So I think that we have to start thinking about how to separate the process of storing something from its publicly exposed URL. I can still use Flickr (or anything else) as a photo storage, indexing, tagging system, but I want to be able to assign my media an address that I own, one that I can re-point when and if I move the “physical” storage of the photos.

We already know how to do this — look at the DNS system as an example of a system without “identifier-identified lock in” as an example.

The nice thing about Flickr et al is that they expose the programatic side of their services with a rich API; as such, it should be easy not only to layer my own URLs over my photos (and, indeed, store them in more than one place). Perhaps that’s the next project?


Roland Tanglao's picture
Roland Tanglao on June 8, 2006 - 07:31 Permalink

yes! great idea could a mod/rewrite hack work somehow?