For Christmas this year I got my Dad, who’s a moderately serious amateur photographer, a Flickr Pro account. I got it for several reasons; as a Christmas gift, of course, but also as a general test of Flickr as a social-web-application. And given that his My Yahoo page now features the tecosystems RSS feed and he’s reading this, sorry for using you as a guinea pig Dad.
My parents are like many others in that they can use technology, but don’t necessarily enjoy learning it. So the question with Flickr was will the benefits of photo-sharing and publishing outweigh the inconvenience of learning to use it?
For a few weeks it was looking like my $40 were going to be a waste, but over the past week or so, my Dad’s begun posting various shots including the one in this entry to the account. Interesting, he’s also learned to use some of the more advanced picture commenting features, which indicates that the interest goes beyond just publish and email around.
The lesson for me? Network applications are as much about incentive as they are about UI. The design of the application is a major consideration, of course, and Flickr generally does a good job of exposing their functionality although I do have to hunt for things now and then. But just as key is providing the incentive, because excepting things like Google search, there will always be some learning curve.
Flickr, for example, seems to have the incentive – the carrot, as it were – down pat if my parents are any indication. LinkedIn, on the other hand, still has given me little if any reason to use the service.