Sometime back in 2008, I bumped into Joe Tree. He introduced me to Blipfoto, a website that he’d set up back in 2004 to record one photograph a day that he felt captured something worth remembering. Gradually, friends started asking him if they could join in. Word-of-mouth played its part and now the site was starting to take off around the world.
It was an important chat for me. I was a lawyer in those days but I was becoming increasingly frustrated by the constraints of my profession. Put simply, there just wasn’t enough tech and innovation to keep me interested. But now I saw something new. I might have been around lots of technology companies and founders over the years but in those days I’d never met anyone that was successfully building an online community organically – and certainly not from my hometown of Edinburgh.
If forced to, I would say that the one defining theme that underpins my interest in technology is that of networks – their formation, their value in bringing efficiency to the exchange of information and the way in which ‘real’ lives then adapt. And this was a golden opportunity to join a global network that had started in my own neck of the woods.
I joined the community and had a blast. There is something unique about only having the opportunity to upload a single photograph (with text, if you like) on a daily basis. That element of personal curation really turns the all-too-common over-sharing problem that plagues digital photography across social platforms on its head. It goes against the tide in a particularly positive way, giving users the opportunity to reach a level of insight about others’ lives that’s unusual which in turn has the positive effect of strengthening the bonds between community members.
So I was delighted to get an email this afternoon to say that Blipfoto has just entered into a partnership with Polaroid.
It’ll be fascinating to see how the relationship develops. As with any strong community, there will always be some who are resistant to change. That’s inevitable but I believe necessary here if the site is going to be “the place where the world tells its story”.
Polaroid is an iconic brand when judged on one metric in particular: public awareness. The inevitable outcome is that many more people will hear about – and therefore join – Blipfoto. It will be challenging to ensure that the community spirit remains. But knowing some of the people involved, if anyone’s able to do it, I think the team at Blipfoto can.