Lies, damned lies and… Oops this account no longer exists
The social media bloggers have been firing statistics at each other since Instagram announced their now aborted TOS. One side says a) Instagram users were heading for the exits like the proverbial rats leaving a sinking ship; and the other says b) Instagram is right as rain, couldn’t be better, thanks. Vested interests aside (and I’m sure there are a lot of them), what is clear is that the arguments aren’t very clear. Some choose to talk about monthly active users (MAUs), some choose daily active users (DAUs). Of course, if you only post a few photos on Instagram (ie an MAU) you’re probably not bothered about the TOS scandal. So pro-Instagram bloggers use MAUs to show that numbers are still good. On the other hand, the people who post every day on Instagram (the DAUs) were also probably more outraged by the new TOS and so these fell more sharply. So this was the stat that the anti-Instagram brigade used.
What’s more, the MAU figure only started to be used by Instagram in December (I wonder why?). Before then, it only ever gave figures for registered users. So no real comparisons over time were possible. On top of this, AppStats, the main source for these stats only measure Instagram posts that are parallel-posted to Facebook. I beg your pardon? Yes, that’s right, it only records a photo being posted on Instagram if that photo is also posted to Facebook. OK, so like these statistics are pretty rubbish. And Instagram’s “press” center is so laughably short on data that it’s not worthy of the name.
Here’s my straw in the wind. I was rather hurt the other day when I found out two of my favourite photographers on Instagram (@dalesmith and @westatom) had stopped following me. My feelings changed, however, when I clicked on their profiles. I realised it wasn’t me they had “unfollowed”, it was Instagram. I checked out the profiles of the other users who had recently unfollowed me. Sure enough, about 50% of those accounts no longer exist (I’m calling them ANLEs for short). And that’s as statistically accurate as I’m prepared to be.
That user no longer exists
Update duel: Snapseed (Google) v Instagram (Facebook)
Seconds out, round 3. Ding! The two fighters’ seconds, Greg Google and Freddie Facebook, towel down their charges, slap them on the cheeks and send them back into the ring. Snapseed throws a heavy right hook with its latest update, the plucky Instagram counters with an upper-cut… OK, enough of the boxing analogy. Google’s Snapseed and Facebook’s Instagram recently brought out updates. Here are my initial thoughts:
The Googley developers (that is the correct adjective for Google isn’t it?) recently got a brand new toy to play with: Snapseed. They couldn’t have Instagram because it was too much, so they got Snapseed. They therefore perhaps begrudgingly set to work on this humble piece of software so beloved of many itogs. Here’s what they changed:
1) A new set of filters! Retrolux. I googled it and found “Retrolux: Quality Rock Band”, who, in the words of one fan, at a recent beer festival upstaged the mighty Letz Zep tribute act. A great feat indeed, but nothing to do with Snapseed, Google or photography. I hope Google got permission for the name. Or the hard-rocking Ian and Dave are in for a big pay day! Anyway, this new set of filters look like an attempt to replicate Hipstamatic, complete with light leaks and scratches, but with control over brightness, contrast, etc.
2) On my first go on my iPad, it crashed.
3) A new completely redundant stage to opening a photo in the form of an extra “use” button. What else am I going to do with the photo (there’s no alternative option to “use” apart from just going back)? You can turn it off in the iPhone setttings. Why would you ever want to turn it on?
4) Some nice new frames: the old ones were pretty weak and there is a lack of good frames in other apps.
5) The options for saving your photo now relegate Instagram to second tier “Open In…” status, with Google+ (is that still going?) promoted to top of the pile. It’s all a bit childish.
Meanwhile, Instagram’s new update treats us to the following improvements:
1) A new filter: the monochrome Willow. A bit darker than Inkwell and with a slightly transparant frame (an idea copied from Squaready?).
2) A new look to the way you choose your photos for posting, giving you a tiny preview of your last saved photos (quite sensible that one).
3) A rotate button: fair enough.
4) An ugly new IG-themed shutter button (does anyone still take photos in the Instagram app?).
5) They also say it goes faster. That’s good.
Google in training
iPhoneography: not just for Facebooking
I found a fascinating article in the British Journal of Photography about mobile photography. These guys are serious big-camera togs, so it’s interesting to have them taking notice of our little world. The article is called From Memory to Experience by Stephen Mayes.To summarise its message: iphoneography is about streaming rather than documenting. In other words, people use mobile cameras to take and publish photos about stuff happening now. Traditional photographers take photos of things and then put them in a book or a magazine or frame them and put them on the wall. Mobile is about the present, big-camera is about the past. Mayes gives the example of some big-camera photographers fooling around with their phone cameras and posting photos to Facebook. In line with this idea, he makes the point that mobile cameras are great for photojournalism. And he’s absoluutely right as many photojournalists have proved. I mentioned it in a blog a while back.
Mayes seems very positive about mobile photography. None of the cynicism of many big-camera photographers. Which is great. And he’s right. Mobile photography is great for photojournalism and lots of people do use it for Facebooking. I’d also say we’re doing some fantastic work in candid street photography (check out Daniel Arnold). But there are many mobile photographers who are occupying the same space as traditional photographers. Many are taking arty photos and creating stunningly beautiful images to put in books or print out and hang on walls. Check out iphoneart.com or Juxt. And I’d say we’re doing more of it, more often and in more creative ways (thanks to the apps) than the average big-camera enthusiast.
And many mobile photographers are behaving like serious photographers in other ways. I’m curating an exhibition, Apped to the Max, at the moment and exhibiting in another one, Iconic London 2012, very soon. So, Stephen, you’re right, we’re taking photography into new spaces, but we’re also doing loads of good stuff in some of the old ones too. Come to the private view?
Yes, but is it photography?
How Facebook might change Instagram
Since Facebook’s now earth-shattering acquisition of our beloved Instagram a few weeks ago, people have been speculating how things would change. Pop-up ads, privacy changes, picture profiling? How about this one? Facebook’s developers work out a way (surely possible) to include click-thru links on Instagram. They appear on such Instagram-dependent platforms as Instagallery but not on Instagram itself. It must drive companies who use Instagram for social media mad when they want to link a photo or a caption through to a website to sell their stuff. Who in their right mind, in this day and age, is going to write down a website address on a piece of paper and then laboriously type it out, letter for letter, as their hair gradually turns grey?
While I (almost certainly) have Facebook developers’ attention, can I also suggest that they allow users to copy and paste text. If I had 10p for the number of times I typed a long reply to someone in a comment and then realised I’d forgotten the @, I’d have £34.40.
But with the linking, isn’t that, like, primary school stuff? It certainly drives me mad that I can’t link one of my Instagram photos’ captions back to my blog. But then is that part of the old-style Instagram mentality? Which is the thing, in more general terms, that may be facing the Facebook hatchet?
Anyone got a pen? I want to enter the www.winthiscompetitionnowforfreeflights.com competition.