The hype machine swings behind FlickrFan

I know that analysts are sometimes in the hyperbole business, but this, from Michael Gartenberg, really is ridiculous:

“That’s why Dave Winer’s FlickrFan is so important. While there are plenty of solutions that let you view photos from your PC on your TV, FlickrFan takes the next logical step and allows me to not only get my own content on a the TV screen but rather lets me also subscribe to new content from others and let others get access to mine. That’s a killer feature and totally changes the game.”

First of all, it’s worth noting that FlickrFan does exactly the thing that Michael notes there are “plenty of solutions for” – viewing photos which live on your PC on TV. FlickrFan downloads the photos it grabs from Flickr into a folder, and then uses the built-in screensaver on the Mac to turn them into a display.

This, of course, is exactly what you can already do with the Mac’s screensaver, which allows you put in RSS feeds of your choice and displays the photos from them. This works not only with Flickr, but with .Mac slideshows or any other RSS feed that carries pictures.

What Dave’s code does – I think, it’s not really explained – is use the Flickr API to grab the largest-available resolution image for anything which crops up in the RSS feed. This means it’s more likely to look pretty good on an HDTV. Given that the resolution of 1080p is 1920×1080 – and most “HD ready” TV’s aren’t 1080p anyway – I don’t think that’s a big deal.

Downloading pictures automatically and showing them on a TV using a PC isn’t really a big deal. What would have been a big deal – and, to use Michael’s phrase, “totally change the game” – would have been something that DIDN’T download images but used them directly from the cloud, where the data lives. Yes, that requires an always-on connection – but a computer which is equipped with Dave’s software is pretty likely to have that anyway.

Of course, Dave’s software has some other neat little tricks, like the ability to back up your own Flickr stream (handy if, like me, you send images direct to Flickr from a phone). It’s nice, although for anyone non-technical the whole OPML Editor interface is a complete nightmare. But game changer? No.

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  • http://mike-mcgrath.wordpress.com mike mcgrath
  • nick s

    TiVo has done something similar — taking Yahoo Photos from the cloud — for a long time. The Flickr add-on is third-party, but works well:
    http://home.comcast.net/~major_clanger/TiVo/
    And there’s a proof-of-concept Twitter app for the TiVo at apps.tv.
    Apparently, having these apps on a box that is designed specifically to plug into a TV (and ideally be networked) is not considered a ‘game changer’. Curious, that.