I am a big fan of open source and of photo sharing. Both together can bring something quite unique on the table but you should ask yourself whether every open source projects works really or not as an open source initiative – useless to write as a useful project by itself.
Most of the time, however one should carefully understand the limitations of an open source project, and the motivations of its main mentors and contributors.
For instance, I like the idea to have some open source code available for catalogue, or sharing pictures, or both. Whereas it is now a commodity (E.g. Picasa – oops I mean Google + photos! – is free), it is far from being often an open source code commodity. And you need the code if you want to build something. That’s not important for end users, but that’s critical for developer working at a new photosharing site for instance.
Therefore, the licensing of the code, something very technical if not boring that you should really look at, however, should be very permissive to let users build easily on top (E.g. of some permissive licences: LGPL, BSD, Apache). GPL will not allow you to monetize your work efficiently, and in many cases, it could be a show stopper for your project.
Whereas I am not so much a fan of Openphoto, I like very much their Apache licensing. Conversely, I like the Pixi.me, free image hosting and photo sharing, based on an open source photo gallery which is, unfortunately, licensed through a GPL. Both projects seems to be commercially-driven, I am fine with that, but I just want to mention their are not community driven (those used to be working with open source project will understand the nuance between both).
Actually, I would split projects in different kind, that’s not specific to open source, but just to clarify things. So I would like to list the services related to the photo workflow:
- Post-processing (E.g. Photoshop for the high-end, Aviary for the common mortal),
- Cataloguing (Picasa, Lightroom),
- Digital Asset Management (Actually for photography “Picture Management”: Lightroom but also Razuna for an open source player),
- Publishing services (usually embedded into DAM/cataloguing software but not always and must be customizable),
- Photosharing (Flickr),
- Analytics (sometimes embedded with Photosharing, sometimes not),
- Curation services (Pictarine)
My list is neither exhaustive nor static, but that’s a start.
And whereas projects are done for end-users – non technical people, I am in favour of developers-oriented open source projects where the technical frameworks are getting commoditized and free from the grasp of commercially-driven teams. Open source projects, modular, consistent with this approach, and based on very permissive licensing, would be very useful for everyone. People involved into the projects would get rewarded by reusing the code of the commodities and by influencing standards and trends. That’s basically what people are calling “community driven open source projects”.
Right now, photo sharing is indeed too much a proprietary thing. I hope open source will influence it the right way, so basically the community way. Commercial vendors are here, o.m.h.o., to propose some unique and seamless experience well integrated of the services listed in this blog, but mixing open source projects with end-users commercial ones may be confusing for both developers and end users.
So yes, Flickr and other Smugmug should be based on more open source frameworks and should open more their API. But I am still wondering the added value of trying to replace them by a project like Openphoto!
Sorry but we are not living in a brave new world, that’s good, and obviously photo sharing is going to evolve a lot!