DC Tech Events For Fall

The DC tech scene is just bursting at the seams with interesting (and free) tech events and un-conferences coming up this fall. I don’t know If I will be able to attend them all but here are a few that made it on to my radar.

Accessibility Camp DC Logo
Accessibility Camp DC is taking place at Martin Luther King Library on October 10, 2009. The event will cover topics and discussions about making the web more accessible.

Public Media Camp Logo
PublicMediaCamp will be at American University on October 17 and 18, 2009. The event aims to put 100 developers, 100 public media supporters, and 100 people who work for public broadcasting companies in a room and see what comes of it.

TedX MidAtlantic Logo
TEDx Midatlantic will be held on November 5, 2009, at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, MD.  The event will feature presentations by many of the leading thinkers and doers in the MidAtlantic Region.

BarCampDC Logo
BarCamp3 is the grand daddy of all DC tech events. It will be at the Martin Luther King Library on November 14, 2009. This is always my favorite event of the year.

Flickr Should Copy DeviantART Not YouTube

When I heard that Flickr is nearly ready to add video capabilities, I felt a bit queasy. Flickr is the leader in the photo sharing arena by a large margin. The main reason it reached critical mass was because of the community it built around the photos uploaded by users. It is also one of the harder sites to monetize since display advertising clashes with photo viewing and there isn’t enough text content for contextual advertising to work. The $24.95 Pro memberships (which can be given as gifts *wink wink*) keep Flickr from being a total money-sink.

Flickr Bleeds Money

Photos require a large chunk of bandwidth to serve up to the millions of Flickr users, but that is nothing compared to the overhead of video. This is probably a moot point considering the company is running off the pipes of it’s owner, web pioneer Yahoo.

While there are good and bad reasons for Flickr to add video, I don’t think they can compete in such a crowded video-sharing marketplace. Did Vimeo, Viddler, Revver, Daily Motion, Blip.tv, Veoh, and the all mighty YouTube leave anything for Flickr to improve upon? It looks like Flickr will have a long, uphill battle to even catch up to the middle of the pack.

Flickr has a huge community around photos and what they need to do is offer more photo related services. Many artists on Flickr have an account at 3rd party sites for selling prints of their work. Flickr could offer fine-art prints from members that opt-in to sell their photos with the service. This way Flickr would tie the browsing and buying experience together and could make a small profit off of each transaction. An example of another art site doing something similar is DeviantART.com (see my prints.).

DeviantART lets users upload as many photos as they want with no file size limitations, just like Flickr. Every member is eligible to opt-in to the standard print account which allows them to sell their art work and receive a cut of the profits. A Premium print account is available for $24.95 a year and offers more print customizations and a higher share of the profits from a sale. These are not run-of-the-mill snapshot prints like at Walmart or Costco. DeviantART does high quality work. The beauty of this is DeviantART can set a base price which includes a tiny profit with every transaction as well as helping out it’s communities. When community members profit, the company profits as well.

DeviantART’s Print Management

Flickr needs something like this! How could such a megasite sit back and watch it’s users point potential customers off to make a purchase? This is money that they are letting go by under their noses. And what do they plan to do with video anyways? Nobody has figured out a successful way to monetize video.

Flickr already has an intuitive interface for uploading, tagging, and browsing photos, why can’t they add selling photos to that list? I feel offering a way for the community to profit off their work while helping Flickr earn it’s keep makes everyone happy. This is way better than adding the latest me-too feature that is already pervasive throughout the web.

Redesigned Comments

Screenshot of new comments

I spent a good chunk of today re-jiggering the look and functionality of the comment system here on my blog. Using the WordPress Thread Comment plugin readers and myself can respond directly to other comments complete with e-mail notification. Gravatar is a globally recognizable avatar plugin giving everyone who posts their thoughts to my blog the option to show an icon representing themselves. If you don’t have a Gravatar account head on over to Gravatar.com to register your e-mail address. Finally, I installed WP-Chunk which simply minimizes long URLs posted in comments and prevents them from breaking my layout.

But most importantly I re-designed the look of comments making them easier to read. I hope this will encourage more discussion on my blog and if you have any feedback, please leave a comment!

P.S. If you need a smattering of comment designs for inspiration check out the comment design showcase at SmileyCat.com.