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Category ArtistServer
Date Thursday, Oct 12, 2006 2:10:03 PM
Photo Sharing for Indie Artists and Bands

The long awaited photos area/section of ArtistServer is now open for beta testing. This new area of the site adds features and functionality you find on top photo management and sharing sites like Flickr. Both artists and members on ArtistServer can now upload hi-res digital photos, have the site create multiple sizes, organize their photos by category, tags and photo sets, and more. Anyone signed in at ArtistServer can post comments, and we provide a means for site viewers to grab links to photos for sharing. There's category browsing, tag clouds, Creative Commons license support, and there's even a cool little page layout option which allows you to set what size of photos you want to view when browsing.

http://www.artistserver.com/photos

If you find any bugs, please send me a support email on the site (contact link is at the bottom of every page on artistserver) with info about the error. Like what browser you were using, kind of image file, file size, etc.

I don't have any directions written up yet, so here's an intro to get you started:

To upload a photo - sign in, enter the MyAccount area, then from the menu, click on My Music/Media, then select Photos. You should see 2 columns - the one on the right is the upload form. You'll find some basic directions on the form.

The photos section and tools ONLY supports JPG files. So if you have BMP, GIF, TIFF, PNG, etc., you will need to convert your image before uploading.

Photos can be organized into 'photo sets,' where each photo set has it's own settings.

People can post comments on photos if they are signed in.

The site takes your uploaded photo and generates popular sizes for you to use:

  • Icon ( 60 x 60 )
  • Thumbnail ( 100 x 75 )
  • Small ( 240 x 180 )
  • Medium ( 500 x 375 )
  • Large ( 640 x 480 )
  • Desktop ( 1024 x 768 )
  • (orig size) Orig

Artists and Members can turn the Photos link on or off in the MyAccount area, under My Site > Settings, which is where you control all settings for your account.

I decided to launch the photos area before I completed all the items on my 'wish list.' The following is what to expect in coming updates to the new Photos area and tools:

  • add photos and photo sets to favorites
  • ratings filter - to hide content based on a rating
  • RSS feeds for photos
  • photo carosel - shows icons of photos, allowing you to preview what is 'next'
  • additional photo access level: hidden, except for friends
  • directions and tips
  • Flash slideshows

I hope you all have fun with this new addition, and as usual, this update is brought to you at no additional cost.

Help support ArtistServer, and please consider upgrading your account. For artists, it's only $40/yr, and for music fans, it's only $12/yr. If you haven't joined ArtistServer.com, give it a try, there's a lot of great music here, a friendly and supportive community, and a great set of tools/toys to play with.



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Category ArtistServer
Date Friday, Feb 24, 2006 4:06:10 PM
Photo Sharing Similar to Flickr at ArtistServer
I've been making some progress with ArtistServer's Photo/Image Gallery tool, so I thought it would be a good time to start talking about the gallery, how it will function, what options are avialable, etc. If you have any questions about the Gallery, post them here on the blog or contact me using the contact link on ArtistServer.com.

Ok, so what is a Gallery?

Our gallery will function somewhat like Flickr.com, so if you have ever used that site, or visited it, you'll have an idea of what our Gallery will offer.

You'll be able to:
  • store photos
  • share them
  • your uploaded photo gets regenerated in multiple sizes making it easier for posting and sharing
  • your photos can be connected to other photos on the site by assigning 'tags' to them
  • your photos will be viewable as slideshows
  • you'll be able to create a Gallery Set, and assign a song to the set so people have a song to listen to while watching the automated slide show
  • photos will be available for deeplinking
  • photos will be available using RSS
  • and more... yes... there's always more :)

As of this afternoon, I can now add/upload a photo, the server is generating the alternate sizes, and I can delete a photo. Next up, is editing, and the process of assigning your photo to Gallery Sets in addition to creating gallery sets.  

There's a lot to do still, for example, I don't have any of the code done for dispalying the photos on the site. But, I do expect to finish the Gallery Tool and Gallery on the site by mid March.  

Below is a screenshot (or at least the url to a screenshot) of the Gallery Tool in it's current state. You can see I have 1 photo in my gallery, and I have the Add new form on the right side of the page.  Not all items in the form are required - so if you want to zip through and upload images without dealing with tags or a description, etc - just skip them.

Oh, and for those that are reading that know what Ajax or Jah is... the Gallery is our first tool that will rely heavily on these 'new' concepts in user interface design.

http://www.artistserver.com/files/AS_GalleryTool.png
 

 



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Category Mobile - Web - Media
Date Friday, Feb 10, 2006 12:12:34 PM
Flickr Misleads You - Photos Not Private

What does "privacy" mean to you? I'm sure you have some form of a definition, and chances are, it's fairly close to mine. And what about privacy settings on Websites, do you know what a site means when they say that your information or content is private? Do you simply look at the options "public" or "private" and accept that these words are defined the way you would define them?

Unfortunately, you do have to ask what private means, because you never know the extent of the privacy, what the privacy actually covers or doesn't cover, and as I found today, that's not even enough. Sometimes you need to test their systems to find the truth.

I recently started the photo gallery tools for ArtistServer.com - which will allow members to host and share photos in a similar manner as Flickr.com. When it came time to plan my method for storing the images, I thought it would be a good idea to look over Flickr.com's URLs for the images they host. I have a free account there and 1 image posted that's set to private. So I hit the site with Firefox, and start viewing the URLs, then figure it would be a good idea to check how they were hanlding access control to the actual photos. By Access control, I'm referring to the ability members have to set how the photo is accessible. You can provide the image to the public, to private + Friends, private + Familiy, and private + Firends and Family. After a few tests in two browsers, I realized the settings had nothing to do with the photo - they only dealt with how the photo was treated "ON" Flickr.com.

Let's summarize that down to something you can easily quote:

Public and private settings on Flickr.com have nothing to do with the actual photos, only the way the photo is displayed on the site. Any photo with any setting can be viewed if the address (URL) is known.

Ok - so you might ask, "How would people know the URL?" That's an understandable question to have, and we could go over various scenarios... like a mom who published photos of her child who found the images were being linked to by the kind of people you wouldn't let near your kids. Fortunately, she deleted the images off of Flickr - if she changed the access to Private - they would still have had access. This is an actual scenario I read about in the Flickr forums today. I'm sure there are other situations - but the point is, Flickr.com is using the terms "Private" and "Public" - yet the actual execution reveals these terms should be: "Not Viewable on Flickr.com" and "Viewable on Flickr.com."

My next step in my investigation, was to verify what I was experiencing - so, I hit their FAQs. The following is a link to the FAQ which attempts to answer my questions:

The FAQ Item on Flickr.com:
http://flickr.com/help/privacy/#32

FAQ: What if I don't want everyone to see my photos?

The way it should be answered:

We can only offer a certain degree of protection which only controls the display of your photos on the actual Flickr.com site. No matter the setting you've selected, if the URL to the photo is known, it can be viewed. If you change a photo from public to private, the image URL will still be viewable to the public.

Every photo comes with its own privacy settings. You can make a photo available to everyone (That's public, and includes people visiting the site who aren't Flickr members), only make it visible to people who are your friends, just to your family, to both your friends and family, or you can select to not share or display your photo on Flickr.

The way it is answered at Flickr.com:

That's not a problem. Every photo comes with its own privacy settings. You can make a photo available to everyone (That's public, and includes people visiting the site who aren't Flickr members), only make it visible to people who are your friends, just to your family, to both your friends and family, or you can keep an image completely private.


If you would like some additional verification about this situation, you can check this thread in their forums - it's the only place where they have the truth about their understanding of Private and Public.

http://flickr.com/forums/bugs/6066/93410/

I do have to say that I agree with Eric, the Flickr staff member who responded in the thread I linked to above. It would be very difficult for them to serve each image after hitting their database. I have to do this for ArtistServer.com when serving mp3s, and it's a bottleneck once the site is getting a lot of hits. I to will serve photos as direct links on ArtistServer, but I don't plan to redefine "Public" and "Private," I plan to use an honest definition like the corrected FAQ answer above.

And Flickr, please, change the text on your site, stop giving people a false sense of security, and don't misuse the terms "Public" and "Private," they're very important to us.



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Category ArtistServer
Date Wednesday, Nov 02, 2005 12:32:32 PM
Revenue Sharing with Your Customers

While reading this article, which took me to a blog posting on 37signals.com, which finally brought me to the source of an interesting discussion by Anil Dash.

They were discussing how Flickr.com makes a fair amount of money from the ad sales on it's site, and brings up that the revenue stream should be shared with the users, as it's their content that drives the traffic, etc.

Here's a quote:

But interestingness in Flickr doesn’t pay. At least not yet. Non-pro users are seeing ads around my photos, but Yahoo’s not sharing the wealth with me, even though I’ve created a draw. Flickr’s plenty open, they’re doing the right thing by any measure of the web as we saw it a year ago, or two years ago. Today, though, openness around value exchange is as important as openness around data exchange. - Anil Dash

Jason, over at 37signals had this to say:

The shift that is going on is pretty radical, actually. The way it used to work was this: You took a photo, someone used it (to make whatever they’re doing better), and you got paid for it. They paid you for your talent. Now, hundreds of thousands of people are taking photos, uploading them to a site like Flickr, making Flickr better, and Yahoo is reaping the financial rewards, not the photographers. That’s a pretty big shift. Yahoo is making money off the backs of the collective camera. - Jason Fried

After reading these posts, revenue sharing not only sounds like the right thing to do, it also sounds like a competitive factor that we shall start seeing more of.

What's there to loose? You have to figure, if your customers are able to make money from your service, that they will be more motivated to use it, and tell others about it. If you your customers see you as a partner, the relationship between service provider and user grows. One of the first thoughts that you might have against this, is the potential for so much revenue to be "lost" to the user. Well, that all depends on how you structure your business model, and if you offer account upgrades, what that rate is per year. Maybe sharing the revenue will be the best thing you can do as a Web service.

As I thought about this more, I realized that it would be impossible for me as an individual to share ad revenue with 10,000 people - that would be accounting hell. My only option, is to not share revenue with my users. Instead, I'm just going to empower them, as that IS one of the core themes at ArtistServer.com - to empower people.

Great, but what does "empower people" translate to? It means that artists will have the option to input their own Google AdSense Client ID which will get used to display the ads on their pages. If you do not have your own AdSense account - apply for one.

If you have an upgraded account on ArtistServer.com, you would also be able to turn the ads off, or select to display your own ads instead. While it might sound a bit tricky, the new Ad Settings tool makes it easy to set up.

When will this new opportunity become available to artists and members? Very soon! I'm maybe a few days away from launching the new version of the My Account Area and will also launch the Google AdSense services at the same time.

 

Before you get too excited, I'll include that ArtistServer.com currently does not make too much from Google AdSense, but that I'm seeing a steady increase over time.

Last bit of info on the subject... what I like most about this, is that it would allow an artist to fund their account upgrade. You have to figure, that if you join the site, upload some good music, and add your Google AdSense ID, that in a year, you should be able to make at least the cost of your account back, which would come to about $0.10 per day.

 



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Gideon Marken
Web Technologist & Electronic Artist

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