Grams and Picks: pocket downloadable memories

Wednesday 13 June 2012
Par Gaby David

Screen shot from the site Pick

Are you an early adopter ? Do you keep track of the latest geekery news ? These questions might seem amusing, but when it entails visual habits like taking photos or videos it also moves a lot of money. For example, did you know that Facebook acquired Instagram in a billion dollar ? Probably you did. But what have they really bought, and more important why?

In April 2012, Silicon Republic Social Media expert and occasional video game and smartphone reviewer, Adam Renardson reminded us that “It took just 10 months for Instagram to reach the milestone of 150m pictures uploaded. More than 1bn Instagram photos have been uploaded so far, with 5m new photos being uploaded each day.”1 But following the Long Tail theory and according to Followgram’s research, 37 % of Instagram users have never uploaded a single photo and only 5 % of users have more than 50 pictures. As of April 2012, Instagram had more than 30m registered users. After its launch on Android on 3 April 2012, more than 1m people had registered with the app at a rate of 2,000 people registering per minute. Amazingly, the acquisition of the two-year-old company for US$1bn means it is valued higher than 161-year-old The New York Times Company, which was valued at US$946m based on the 9/4/2012 closing price at the NYSE (The New York Stock Exchange).

There are three key factors in the increase of use of Instagram, opines André Gunthert. The first is the comfort of sharing the photo, which starts from the very first time when using the app, by a click the sharing is done. No need for cable, key, download or any intermediary software application, not even a password. The second is its blended integration into the ecology of social networks, which are now the main exhibition spaces of private production. The third is the ability to opacify the photo, by using the different range of filters and effects.2 In addition to Gunthert’s remarks other hypothesis and/or web rumours believe that the reason why the acquisition was made is : Printstagram, a printing project, tilting the trend to come back to our old paper photos, to remember and to go back to the old school photography roots. Through Prinstagram they’d sell touchable prints with different options that can range from minibooks, mini prints, to posters & photobooks, which will be made easily from your Instagram photos. The purpose is to make photos more physical, more material and of course make profit out of prints. Time will tell.

In any case, the impact of this new Facebook acquisition just boosted the free mobile photo sharing application to a higher peak. Many other “grams” are now popping, as if “to gram” was turning out into a new verb or suffix. There is for example Statigram : enabling to check for ones Instagram statistics, or Followgram to create a following “vanity list”. Followgram is described as a web app that extends the Instagram features, enhances the user experience and boosts your followers count. It provides users with plenty of exclusive features such as RSS feeds, photo galleries, Facebook integration as well as custom vanity URLs. But probably the most interesting part of it is that it allows you to create a follow button for your website or blog. Brands can activate Followgram brand pages with special features, web analytics and a customer engagement system.

When all comes down to: how to be heard in the overwhelmed online public arena, how can one be heard avoiding the pitfalls of egocentrism or moralism ? How to success in using the new communication apps ? How to create a rather fun prevention campaign when most campaigns use fear? That is what Boobstagram attempts to do. Boobstagram, is another interesting “gram” to highlight, a project put forward by Julien GLT (founder of Boobstagram) and Lionel Pourtau (sociologist), who put forward the idea that already has more than 22000 people.  In their “about” the explanation given is that it is not about showing boobs online but about fighting against and raising awareness to breast cancer risk.We cannot all become doctors or surgeons. But we can all take part in prevention, for ourselves, for our friends and family and for others” say the French. How ? “By targeting young people, those who are most comfortable with new technologies and most comfortable with unconventional messages.” Audacious and original, lets hope the objective is fulfilled. So, when we say that Facebook bought Instagram we should also think that Facebook bought the other apps and/or satelites that come attached to Instagram as well.

Some people like Gil Bartholenys still nostalgically link and add some vintage retro flavour to the app. However, most of the youngsters or even children who are experiencing these apps have zero or very few experience with analogue photography and more than half of those under 16 have only used cameraphones to take photos. The truth is that young kids do not really know what a Polaroid is, they are even asking “What’s a Polaroid, dad ?“.

Another thing to bear in mind when studying an app is that we need to relate it to other similar and related market options. To compare other photo filter and sharing apps Jenny Bergen proposes 10 other different options to Instagram. Nevertheless, one app that Bergen forgot to list and that outstands from the rest is the Japanese free app Pick.

In the Japanese culture Pick is evidently a direct descendant of the so well known : Purikura3. Resembling to the Purikura pictures, Pick images are quite different from the the ones we can do with the apps that we knew, such as Flickr, LightBox Photos, streamzoo, etc. Pick is different because it not only enables to apply filters but also many different and amusing stamps, frames, draw and even write on the photos. In a nutshell: it enables another appropriation mode, trying to weave even more our feelings both from and within the image, using it as a message support and not merely as an added illustration to an SMS. With Pick there is no longer need to transform the SMS into an MMS, in the sense of adding an image to an text message: here the image itself can turn into being the message and the text (if any) written on the photo, will operate just as if a caption.

After having welcomed Instagram and the photo sharing sites and apps into the tech environment in 2011-12, (due to language restraints Pick has not hit the international market yet, but is getting known) now, it is probably and finally the turn to the mobile video sharing platforms to start gaining real popular fame. Even Instagram is going for and betting on social video sharing. However, “the video is only half of the equation. The other half is socializing it” says Richard MacManus, the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of ReadWriteWeb.4 He believes that social video is where we should be putting our eyes on (and I agree). (i.e. See his blog post for a full comparison between Socialcam and Viddy) Let’s wait and see… In any case another of the important things to begin to or to continue thinking about is on how all these downloadable memories and imagery sharing sites might alter the future perception of our own memories.5

PS=> See the new Instaglasses. even if they are not on sale yet & probably might not really punch into the market, it interesting to observe that many services and products are being created around Instagram.

MaJ: casetagram: make your case with UR own photos: images are sold to oneself as personal commodities, no need for copyright + sense of customisation. la boucle est bouclé.

  1. See Renardson, Adam . “Instagram facts and figures, What has Facebook bought? – New Media – New Media, – Ireland’s Technology News Service.” Irelands technology news service N.p., 10 Apr. 2012. Web. 9 June 2012, []
  2. Gunthert, André, “Instagram, photo d’hier ou de demain?”, L’Atelier des icônes, Culture Visuelle Média social d’enseignement et de recherche, 11 Apr. 2012. Web. 12 June 2012, []
  3. For more development on Japanese photography and Purikura see Peccatte, Patrick. “L’information embarquée dans l’image : une idée centenaire et son implémentation numérique, Déjà vu” Culture Visuelle, Média social d’enseignement et de recherche. N.p., 5 Mar. 2010. Web. 12 June 2012, and do follow Claude Estebe’s flickr account/s : and researches []
  4. MacManus, Richard, ” Why “Instagram For Video” Apps Will Go Big”, ReadWriteWeb – Web Apps, Web Technology Trends, Social Networking and Social Media, 3 May 2012. Web. 12 June 2012, []
  5. Cf. Eler, Alicia. “How Posting Photos of Kids Alters Perceptions of Memory.” ReadWriteWeb – Web Apps, Web Technology Trends, Social Networking and Social Media, 25 Apr. 2012. Web. 12 June 2012, []

4 commentaires

  1. Est-ce que je me trompe (je n’ai regardé qu’une dizaine de pages) ou est-ce que Boobstagram a une règle très stricte, qui s’est imposée à tous ses participants, montrer non pas ses seins mais ses seins dissimulés (mis en valeur?) par un soutien gorge sans montrer son visage? C’est d’autant plus frappant que cette règle n’est pas formulée sur le site.
    Du coup on dirait presque un travail de commande avec un même auteur derrière toutes les images.

  2. Non Thierry, vous ne vous trompez pas. J’ai ré lu leur ‘why-pourquoi’ et je n’ai pas trouvée une règle précise sur cela. Or, il ne me semble pas frappant. Leur but étant : “faire une prévention ludique en s’appuyant sur l’appropriation par chacun des derniers outils technologiques de masse…Et en choisissant cet angle et en choisissant des populations jeunes, celles qui sont les plus à l’aise avec ces technologies, celles qui sont les plus à l’aise avec les messages décalés, nous cherchons à sensibiliser celles et ceux qui doivent changer leur comportement aujourd’hui pour bien changer leur destin après-demain.”

    Donc, il me semble que même en ayant pas un but artistique créatif per se, ces femmes ont su jouer le jeu proposé (photographier leurs poitrines – oui, même si elles portent un soutien gorge), sans révéler leur identité, en autres mots, sans que poster leurs seins en ligne publiquement les gène, tout en étant en même temps assez créatives. C’est vrai que l’uniformité du sujet et le format carré rends un peu le corpus (c’est le cas de le dire) d’images assez similaire ou bien assez homogène. Mais est-ce grave docteur ?

    Or, si l’on clique une de ces photos, par exemple ici on voit un fil constitué de reblogues, d’ajouts ou des coups cœur dont chaque pseudo est un lien vif vers une page extérieur à Boobstagram, qui mène à découvrir plus de l’univers de la personne qui était derrière la photo.
    Alors: plusieurs personnes envoient volontairement une photo plutôt intime pour ensuite faire partie de la construction d’un corpus collective dont la composition est cohérente.

  3. Ce n’est pas grave Gaby :-) , juste étonnant.
    Enfin à mes yeux.
    Je n’aurais pas imaginé qu’une règle définie implicitement par les premières photos qui ont été mises en lignes, puisse à ce point s’imposer à tous.
    Au final cela n’en est sans doute que plus efficace, ne serait-ce que parce que sur Internet le sein dissimulé par un soutien-gorge est finalement plus rare que le sein nu, et parce qu’il y a dans cette similarité quelque chose de beaucoup plus fort que la seule idée d’origine.
    Mais je n’aurais pas imaginé que des milliers d’internautes acceptent, quel qu’en soit la raison, de se conformer à ce point à un modèle visuel.

  4. c’est comme dans tous les jeux, il y a des règles. si tu as envie tu joues et si cela ne te conviens/plais pas tu ne joues pas.
    on pourra suivre le site , histoire de voir si les utilisatrices détourneront les règles implicites que se sont instaurées.


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