This is inspired by Matt Jones’ Hello Little Fella Flickr group. We wanted to do the scoring based on whether you’d added your photo to the group, but it turns out that Flickr doesn’t provide that information in the API very easily.
Actually, that’s not true: you can do one call per photo to gets every pool and set a photo is in. However, the name is arguably part of the reason so few people know about it. The call is flickr.photos.getAllContexts.
The best way to explain the name is to look at the sidebar on any Flickr photo page. Underneath the user’s info, you’ll see a block for their photostream, and often then identical blocks for every set or group that the photo is in. Each of these blocks is a “context”, and each has its own order for going back and forth.
The API call returns a very short data structure, which contains <set> elements (for the user’s set that the photo is part of) and <pool> elements (for, unsurprisingly, the group IDs of the pools the photo has been posted to). If you know the ID of a pool (say, 796605@N25, for Hello Little Fella!) then you can easily find out if the photo is a member.
(It turns out that the Toms were actually aware of this, but it wasn’t easy for them to add this to the noticings data gathering flow. Still, I think this is worth dragging from the drafts folder and publishing.)
In Flickr’s terminology, a group contains one or more users, zero or more discussions and has a pool containing zero or more photos. Only users are allowed to add photos to a pool, or to contribute to a discussion (except for invited photos).
I’ve been posting photos to Flickr for about five years now. In all that time, the biggest change to the way I post photos has come about in the past month.
I’d thought that getting an iPhone would change things. After all, it’s the first time I’ve had a camera phone that actually came with an internet connection that didn’t carry the threat of horrific monthly bills, and GPS to boot. However, it turns out that it wasn’t enough; of all the apps and methods I tried I never found anything quite smooth enough. The responsible party was actually noticings, “the game of noticing the world around you”. Every day, at 3pm GMT, it finds photos on Flickr from the previous day that are tagged “noticings”, and scores them.
That “every day” is the key point. Previously, I’d take days to take photos off my camera, and weeks to sift through them and choose which to upload. In fact, that’s still the case for photos from my “proper” cameras, or photos which don’t have the urgency of noticings. However, I seem to be spotting enough that I now post a few photos every day.
I’ve always taken pictures of street furniture, signs, adverts, shop fronts, and other such trivia. I always felt a bit strange about posting them, but noticings seems to thrive on such things. I worry a little that I’ve annoyed people who liked irregular, but “better”, photographs, but hopefully there’s value in noticings, too.
noticings is still a work in progress, with the ruleset still in flux, but it now has nice machine tag extras (so that noticings are mentioned on the Flickr photo page). Of all the location-based games around at the moment*, it’s by far the most interesting to me, and while I might well stop being quite so obsessive about playing it when I’m not on holiday, it’s still helping me to look around.
* If you’re curious: Gowalla seems to be tediously centred on picking up bananas, or something. Foursquare is equally bad: its London launch found the utility of finding out who was at which pub being swamped with pointscoring check-ins to Tube stations and, even worse, people’s houses. Meanwhile, the app itself is barely usable; today, it still thought I was in Walthamstow when I was outside the Serpentine. Anyway, I don’t go out. Both are too focussed on right there, right then; noticings has a lot more slack, the way a message in Twitter did (back when people used it to meet up), which feels to me more pleasantly human.