Why I love Web 2.0 – episode 1,015


It’s one thing to talk about how Web 2.0 – or the “Dynamic Web” or the “Live Web” or whatever we’re calling it today – allows companies to start and even grow to an extraordinary size with a little ingenuity, some open-source tools and some moxie, but it never ceases to amaze me when a new one pops up. Thomas Hawk has a great post about one called Zoomr.com, which is an online photo-sharing service kind of like Flickr – which as we all know was started by a Vancouver couple (who appeared recently on the cover of Newsweek) and was then bought by Yahoo.

I got an email from the guy who started Zoomr a little while ago, and checked out the service, but I have to admit I wasn’t all that impressed. Great – another photo-sharing site, I thought. It has some features Flickr doesn’t have, but I didn’t think it was anything special. In fact, when it comes to Flickr competitors, I think Bubbleshare.com (another Canadian startup) has a lot more going for it. But then I read Thomas Hawk’s post, in which he describes how Kristopher Tate, the 17-year-old who started Zoomr.com, added a new feature while he was talking on the phone with Thomas.

“So while I was chatting with Tate about trackbacks at 10:32 a.m. this morning he wrote me, “yes, one big thing that I want to do is a sort of photo “trackback.” We then chatted a bit more about it and at 10:53 he wrote “Hmm, I think I’ll add the trackback feature in now.”

And just like that, trackbacks or refers were implemented. A feature that Thomas Hawk and others have been waiting for from Flickr.com for months, but which the larger site can’t implement because it is wrestling with integration of its servers with Yahoo, and so on. Yes, Zooomr.com is just another competing photo site, and yes it probably suffers from the same deficiencies as far as a business model is concerned that many other Web 2.0 companies do — but damn. That is cool.

Comments (6)

  1. Rehan wrote::

    37Signals had a related comment in their Filter blog entry today, concerning the necessity of functional specs:
    “If you’re leading 50 people into an undiscovered country, and you have to convince the entire court of Spain and Portugal to fund your expedition, then you’re going to hire a bunch of guys with sextants to plot out your journey and guess where all the gold is. If you’re 5 guys in a boat, you’re just going to set sail and head west until you find land.”

    Kristopher Tate can manage to fly by the seat of his pants and make changes like that on the live server; Flickr now has to take a much more structured approach for several reasons, and that will obviously take them longer. It’s 5 guys in a boat vs. 50 people in an undiscovered country.

    BTW, the domains is Zooomr.com with three o’s.

    Monday, April 3, 2006 at 11:51 pm #
  2. Albert Lai wrote::

    For what its worth, I think Kris is amazing. I met him on various occasions, and I’m proud to say that I even had the opportunity to “sponsored” him to go to a couple of events (well, I sponsored one, and drove him to another since he didn’t own a car, and I had my rental).

    Kris is arguably one of the most amazing people I’ve met (and umm.. i guess that’s actually means since its been well blogged now that I had lunch with BillG). You only THINK he’s amazing because people have read about him. I met him. He is better than amazing. =)

    However, what is important to point out is that while Zooomr has way more cool stuff than flickr in many ways, its important to note that Flickr had to pioneer a lof of the ground work that we take for granted. That’s not to say that’s its not amazing for Kris to pull of all that he has, regardless of age and resource. I want to make sure credit is given to the amazingly creative Flickr team that trail blazed a lot of the concepts we take for granted today.

    Its my hope that we’ll keep learning from each other’s ideas (I have Kris on my IM list) and keeping each other on our respective toes. Its great to see all the competition and innovation. But at the end of the day, the “rivalry” I think is a healthy one — and I for one look forward to Kris’s further innovations. Kris is a great testament of how great software can be built by ONE person, and the benefit of “zero overhead” software development.

    Tuesday, April 4, 2006 at 9:42 pm #
  3. Mathew wrote::

    Thanks for the comment, Albert. That you and Kris know each other and can have that kind of respect for each other, and support each other even while competing, is in itself is a great testament to Web 2.0 — and you are absolutely right about Flickr. They definitely should get all kinds of credit for blazing trails.


    Tuesday, April 4, 2006 at 9:52 pm #
  4. Mathew wrote::

    And thanks, Rehan. Good points — and a typo :-) Sorry for not posting your comment before, but it got snagged by my spam filter.


    Wednesday, April 5, 2006 at 11:23 pm #
  5. Dan100 wrote::

    But you hint at why Flickr can’t develop as fast as Zooomr – its’ traffic. When Flickr was as small as Zooomr is now, it could develop just as quickly. And when (if) Zooomr grows as large as Flickr, it will have the same constraints in rolling out new features.

    Let’s just hope Kris gets Zooomr sorted before it gets to big – and for sure, there’s plenty that needs doing. Try viewing Zooomr in IE6, for example…

    Tuesday, April 11, 2006 at 4:56 am #
  6. Mathew wrote::

    Thanks for the comment, Dan. That’s a good point — and one I think Thomas Hawk has also made (and Rehan too, above). Once you get to be the size Flickr is, it’s a lot harder to be as adaptable — which makes it all the more important to get it right before you start to “scale.”


    Tuesday, April 11, 2006 at 8:05 am #