Kickstarter for The Next Book – Cuba: Seven in 10

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Image by Joe Newman.

My next book will be a team photo effort from seven Washington, DC photographers in Cuba. Cuba: Seven in 10 (see our Kickstarter page) will feature 10 photographic takes on Cuba from each shutterbug, representing our personal interpretations of Havana and Cuban culture as it is exists now before the American tourism rush.

The end result? Cuba viewed by Seven in 10 frames each. This should make for a great photo book.

How long until Cuba’s amazing culture is changed forever by this new influx of American dollars and influence? In many ways, the zeitgeist of Cuban culture is in its twilight before entering a new phase as a destination for vacationing Americans.

The other six photographers in alphabetical order are Charles Butler of Union 206 Studios, Nana Gyesie, Dwight Jefferson, Joe Newman of DC Focused, Pablo Raw, and Jon Sterling. We are asking for pre-orders and support on Kickstarter beginning today.

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Geoff Livingston (me, on the left), Pablo Raw, Joe Newman, Dwight Jefferson, Jon Sperling, Charles Butler, and Nana Gyesie.

The actual trip will happen on June 9-15, and you should definitely expect some behind the scenes photos on my accounts. We also launched a Facebook page where we will post pictures during and after the trip.

Please contribute to this excellent effort. It’s going to be an incredible visual journey, and one that interests most Americans who enjoy travel.

Also, I want to give a shout out to Joe Newman and his new travel company Focused Photo Adventures. The entire trip was arranged by Joe and his company. Also, the header image was contributed by Joe.

What do you think about Cuba?

Twitter Needs Stronger Conversations, Not Longer Spam

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Barrack Obama types in the first presidential Tweet with Twitter Co-Founder Jack Dorsey watching.

The Internet is abuzz about how to fix Twitter. The conversation revolves around the potential expansion of Tweets to as many as 10,000 characters.

It’s a bit of a Trojan horse of a conversation. The real issue is how can Twitter break out of a slump that has the social network stymied with no growth, quarterly losses, and lackluster engagement.

Unfortunately, longer tweets won’t fix the problem. Twitter’s slump revolves around the network’s lack of human connection rather than its format. Specifically, the social network’s problem is a never-ending stream of spammy links and a lack of connectivity to other human beings.

Is It Really News?

Adrienne

Twitter made a decision a long time ago to describe itself as a news service, and a place to find out and discuss what is going on. This was an effort to differentiate it from Facebook and other social networks.

The ongoing news focus came with a price: Sharing stories, news, and content in the form of links. Links to useful information aren’t bad, but what Twitter has become as a result of the links, well, that’s another issue. What many people see in there streams are a series of short (and often poorly written) headlines and comments with links. Rare is the conversation or simple reply.

Janet

Many of the links featured in the stream of links don’t expand. Even pictures are shown as links half the time, depending on browser and bandwidth.

Worse, because of the public nature of Twitter, it has become brand marketers and PR folks’ number one or number two go-to-social network to share information. Unfortunately, their idea of information is most people’s idea of spam or just boring content (see content marketing rant).

One could say the same for many of the links shared by everyday users. Some are interesting. Most are not.

Of course, you could say shame on the people who follow these folks. But even the most casual friend seems to use Twitter to 1) drop links and 2) rant or complain. It’s hard to follow no one on Twitter and be a part of any experience.

What Can Be Done?

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Twitter’s issue is not maximum tweet length. The way 10k would come across, it would look like any other blog post with a lead and link to the whole thing, so I see no inherent value or detriment. No, the issue is feeling that whenever you log in, you’re just going to be sourced a bunch of spammy links, some pushed by brands, some pushed by users (we’ll call this UG spam for user-generated spam). But can Twitter be saved?

Now you see the wisdom of Facebook, Pinterest and Google+. Each of those networks naturally embeds posts and pics in posts. In the case of Facebook and Google+, their algorithm curates the most “interesting” updates to spare readers from what they may consider to be mundane or spammy.

Daniel Waldman

I asked several people for their suggestions on what could fix Twitter. Some of the answers are embedded throughout the post. One of the most compelling ones was simply making the 140 characters used for text, and have posts show images and stories automatically as embeds sans character count.

I agree with Shireen, but am not sure format is enough to save the day. In comparison to the other social networks, Twitter is not fun very fun or useful in the social context.

The other social networks have function beyond sharing news and ranting about it on the side. They offer unique focus on social functions like family and friends (Fakebook), or business interactionss (LinkedIn), or friends who show and don’t tell much (Instagram), or contacts who share and store useful information (Pinterest), or places where you can avoid public eyes (SnapChat et al).

Horvath

What does Twitter offer that those networks don’t? News trolls? Publicly quantified pundits? What’s missing is the conversation and interestingness, and that’s what Twitter really needs to restore if it wants to continue to grow and develop. After all, it should be about the people who use it. That’s the way it used to be. Perhaps using some sort of an algorithm to filter the stream is necessary, but that would fly in the face of the social network’s stream ethos.

I don’t pretend to have an answer, but maybe you do. Feel free to weigh in.

12 Google+ Headers (Thanks a Million Part II)

I recently passed one million views on Google+, a number that doubled in the past year. This is the second time I have passed a million views on a social network this year, the other being Flickr.

During this time I shifted content production from multiple blog posts a week to produce photos via my 365 Full Frame project, and that has been the primary driver of this grown.

To thank folks for continuing to like and support my photography interests, please find below 12 free Google+ header images. These pictures are my most popular 365 Full Frame photos so far, as rated by 500 Pixels. If you like my photography and want to support the 365 Full Frame Project, please consider a contribution.

And with that, here are the 12 free Google+ headers for your use. Cheers.

1) Las Vegas Strip at Night

Las Vegas Strip at Night for Google+ 2

Grab it!

2) The Lotus Giant

The Lotus Giant for Google+

Grab it!

3) The Queensboro Bridge

Queensboro Bridge for Google+

Grab it!

4) Fire Ball

Fire Ball for Google+

Grab it!

5) Purple Zinnia Gets a Visitor

Purple Zinnia Gets a Visitor for Google+

Grab it!

6) Bridge Over the River Cuyahoga

Bridge Over the River Cuyahoga for Google+

Grab it!

7) Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for Google+

Grab it!

8) From Dawn to Sunrise

From Dawn to Sunrise for Google+

Grab it!

9) Waterfall Way

Waterfall Way for Google+

Grab it!

10) FDR East River Drive

FDR East River Drive for Google+

Grab it!

11) Three Bridge Sunrise

Three Bridge Sunrise

Grab it!

12) Sunset on the Pentagon Marina

Sunset on the Pentagon Marina for Google+

Grab it!

I hope you enjoy your Google+ header. No attribution is necessary, but it’d be fun to know if you used tone. Cheers!

Can Flickr Catch Instagram?

Flickr celebrated 10 years of serving photos earlier this month, making it an old man amongst social networks. But the photo network is still relevant today, ranking in the top 10 social networks thanks to a resurgence under Marissa Mayer’s watch. In fact, Flickr is now ranked just one spot behind rival photo network Instagram.

In the past two years, Yahoo! redesigned the site to give it a modern feel, added new apps, gave photographers a massive amount of free space (one terabyte), and continues to evolve its feature set. Most recently, Flickr added Creations, an easy way for photographers to create their own Photo Books. The series of changes has produced a visual renaissance.

Flickr has 92 million users now, from amateur to the most professional of photgraphers. Unlike Instagram, Flickr’s robust copyright protection mechanisms provides more experienced photgraphers a safe place to post, in turn attracting higher quality images.

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Image by antony5112 on Flickr.

While Instagram may be the place for casual photo sharing and in-the-moment visual hashtagged memes, Flickr offers a search beast and credibility. Google, Bing and Yahoo alike index the site, and offer its images in their results. Tagging drives additional native search traffic, too. As a result, Flickr is a top resource for those looking for creative photos.

In my opinion, Yahoo!’s Flickr may overtake Facebook’s Instagram as the number one photography social network. What a coup that would be for Marissa Mayer.

I post on both Flickr and Instagram, and I can safely say that I have never had an Instagram photo featured in a news story, book, or on Getty Images. My works on Flickr have been featured in three books, twelve were licensed by Getty Images, and hundreds have been featured in blogs around the world.

In fact, Flickr is so powerful that my photo blog regularly outperforms this blog every month. I am expecting my one millionth photo view (none of which include me) early this Spring, outpacing this blog’s page views (which includes the old Now Is Gone blog, launched at roughly the same time as my Flickr blog, but not the Buzz Bin from 2006-9).

The combination of better apps and features, higher visibility to influential photography users, and increased social function gives Flickr the edge over Instagram in my book. What do you think?

Featured image by me, shot in Philadelphia this past Saturday.