About 8 weeks ago I decided to try to drag my friends and family into the 21st century by sending them invitations to join Flickr and share photos. The friend group consisted of our close friends who we see several times a week. We do stuff together all the time, so the pictures I take of my kids generally include a few of their kids. The prospect of seeing and downloading my “friends and family” photos sounded like good incentive. The family group consisted of Raina, my sister and my cousin Janet. These are the only family members I know of that meet the requirements: (a) they have a computer and (b) I have their email address.
Part One (signing up): I sent out “friend” invitations to Arnie (I didn’t have his wife Christina’s separate email at the time), Greg, Yvette, Ray, Sharon, Kyle, Martha, Dave and Lenora and “family” invitations to Raina, Anne and cousin Janet. I figured all the moms would sign up and the other dads (except for Arnie, who is fairly tech-savy and always willing to try new things) would blow me off. I figured 2 out of the 3 family members would sign up.
The results were a little surprising. Arnie signed up right away, as predicted, but so did the rest of the friend group. Greg and Yvette (spouses), Ray and Sharon (spouses) and Kyle and Martha (spouses) each signed up separately and Dave and Lenora (spouses) signed up together. Raina signed up right away, but Anne and cousin Janet ignored multiple invitations. At last count, I had sent Anne 12 invitations. I suppose they are paying me back for many years as a poor correspondent family-wise.
Part Two (uploading photos): Here’s where the pack started to separate. In a big surprise, Ray was the first one to upload photos, uploading 5 shots from Russia right away. Ray travels on business a lot, so this is not all that surprising. Ray is also a guy, however, and my theory (perhaps now disproved) was that the moms would do the heavy lifting photo-wise. Arnie put a bunch of vacation photos up right away, and of course I have uploaded a lot of photos. So far the only mom to break into the scoring column is Yvette with 5 photos from the hottest (temperature wise) swim meet in recorded history. Nada for all of the other folks, demonstrating once again that you can lead a horse to water and all that.
Part Three (adding friends to your contacts): Because the invitations came from me, everyone who signed up became one of my contacts automatically, either as friend or family, as the case may be. One of the many wonderful features of Flickr is that you can upload photos that can only be seen by people in the category (family, friend, public, etc.) you select. So in order for our group to share photos, everyone else has to manually add the other group members as a contact (family for spouses; friend for everyone else). I sent out an email with instructions on how and why to do this. A few people tried. One or two succeeded, but based on the questions I got, most were either actually or conveniently confused about the process. These are 40 something year old professionals with graduate degrees. I can’t imagine how hard it would be with parents or grandparents (as an orphan, I am sadly exempt from that hair-pulling experience).
Part Four (where do I go from here): I would say that my Flickr experiment has been, at best, only a partial success. Raina and our friends can now view my photos (including many from our recent camping trip). Arnie and maybe a few others will explore and enjoy the wonder that is Flickr. But the fact is that most people my age and probably everyone older still think of photos as paper things- not digital things (more on our transition from paper to digital in a forthcoming post). You can teach grown-ups technology, but it’s not easy (watching the older lawyers in my office wage war with email attachments is further proof of this). My little group will probably use Flickr, at least a little, if I keep hounding them. But it won’t be easy for me or for them.