I recently posted a pretty self-explanatory pic on my Instagram account and personal & emotional hygiene blog: JohnnyLeCanuck.com inspired by fellow photog and honorary Fat Dad Andre Nantel (pic here for the time being). I rarely take such brash measures without much consideration, especially after I go through so much trouble integrating my workflow around it. But today’s decision by the Instagram team to sell out to Facebook was just too much.
What made Instagram so awesome in the first place was the fact that it is its own social network that works just fine on its own. You take little square pictures on your phone and upload them to Instagram where you can share with friends, photogs and other Instragram users if you like. However the real kicker is in the fact that Instagram was so open to letting you export and share your photos with other social networks and services such as Flickr, Twitter, Tumblr, email and yes even the FarceBook. And that’s the point right there, YOU decide what YOU want to do. You open your account with Instagram, there is no need to use FaceBook Connect ever. You can even keep all your stuff private and never ever share with anyone but the few folks you allow to see your account: your close circle of iPhone and Android owners.
So what sucks so much about this buyout, is that Instagram was already a pretty strong community of photo-sharers who were also FaceBook haters. Well actually there is no way for me to know this, I am making a huge assumption based on the fact that I am not on FaceBook to know if they are there or not. So getting back to what sucks, a strong community of picture takers are most likely going to be forced to start using FaceBook Connect, continuously badgered to link up their accounts, or even worse flooding theirs friends’ news-feeds with pics of food, small animals and quirky finds of the meatspace.
Being very wary of Facebook to begin with for all its past privacy blunders and the lack of NetSmarts of the average FaceBooker, it really bugs me that a service that was so well-developed would just take the easy and lazy buyout option as soon as they realised that they had no idea how to make money. The obvious tactic would have been to create Pro accounts but since the API was already pretty open, this would have only alienated and pissed off too many of its users. So instead they choose to piss off their ENTIRE user base for a small chance of trying to hook in your Aunt-Sue and that really annoying girl in High-School who already shares far too much.
As these social networks mature and the Post-PC era looms closer and closer I am looking around at who can respectfully hold on to my data and earn my trust and the list keeps getting shorter and shorter:
- Google is on a very short leash
- My own web servers running WordPress.org
- Twitter – but it’s backed up somewhere else too
And with Apple it’s only because I pay dearly for it and have copies on machines in my house. If ever I were to leave the Apple eco-system, I know all too well that I would be in very big trouble.
So I’m stuck trying to figure out a new workflow to get tagged, titled & filtered square photos onto Twitter or Path (for now) as well and JohnnyLeCanuck.com, my faux-Tumblr site that is now a self hosted WordPress site ever since I saw how fragile Tumblr was when it could scale. I might be able to cobble something together with Flickr and ifttt.com but it will mean holding on to that Flickr Pro account for another year despite the fact they are themselves only one more CEO away from extinction. I’m not even worried about losing the pics on Instagram since they were always backed up onto the devices and then in a special Aperture library at home.
The thing that annoys me the most is the ever-growing trend of building up your business on my content, then selling out and shutting down. Of course I understand that this is part of the game of being an early adopter and dealing with startups, but it doesn’t make it any easier to switch services and pull content. I suspect more people will be like me and start trying to roll their own, we already do this for our Webservices, RSS, Podcast Media, and Shortlinks. Don’t expect us to start building Holga and Polaroid filters for WordPress, but expect more of the same critical eye when evaluating new services and apps.
I wasn’t the only one to bail on Instagram’s Fail, Steve & Ben both deleted their apps today.