A Flickr of Hope
While HeyPix tries to build community by letting users share pictures on each other's sites, Flickr has a totally new approach that has made it one of the most popular photo-sharing sites on the Web--and it's still in beta.
When I uploaded my pictures to Flickr's server and signed up for my free account, I was asked such personal questions that I felt as if I were joining an online dating service. Who's your favorite author? What are your hobbies? What's your favorite movie? Based on the answers to these questions, you can find other Flickr users with common interests.
A quick look at my profile will reveal that I'm a David Sedaris fan. Within a week I was chatting and sharing pictures with new friends in Texas, Colorado, India, and Brazil. We started out discussing books, which led to the embarrassing revelation that a few of us are fantasy geeks. Someone told me that a Trekkie group exists, but it's in decline--not that I'm a Trekkie. Because I'm not.
When you join Flickr, you upload images to a Web page that displays all of your pictures. You can invite others to look at all photos you mark as public. You can also share pictures using the Flickr chat software, FlickrLive, just by dragging a picture from your gallery into the chat window.
When I wasn't busy chatting, I was checking my photo collection to see if anyone had commented on my pictures or bookmarked them as Favorites. I also used Flickr to upload photos to my Blogger-hosted blog (Flickr supports LiveJournal, Moveable Type, and TypePad, as well). If your friends and family subscribe to RSS feeds, they can view all of your latest photos the instant that you post them.
Flickr also offers every level of camera-phone support. I e-mailed amusing pictures of my friend Stephanie sporting fake facial hair (don't ask) from my phone to my Flickr account, and the photos went live within minutes--much to her embarrassment. Later, I was able to call up all of my Flickr photos through my mobile phone's Web browser.
After just over a week of using Flickr, I'm hooked. I've gone from checking my e-mail account every 2 minutes to checking my Flickr account instead. Free accounts limit you to 10MB of monthly uploads and three Photosets (albums)--and they store only smaller, resized versions of your photos. A Pro account, which costs $60 a year, gives you 1GB of monthly uploads plus unlimited storage, bandwidth, and Photosets. It also allows you to archive high-resolution images and will soon let you browse sans advertisements.
Cool: People with similar interests can make comments on your photo page (shown at left).
Not cool: Free account is limiting, and extras cost.
Pricing: Free for 10MB monthly uploads, three-album limit; $60 for Pro (includes 1GB monthly uploads, unlimited albums, and storage of high-resolution images)