Wednesday, 29 July 2015

The Flickr puzzle

My Flickr site started up at the same time as this blog, way back in February 2009. Gosh, that seems a long time ago! But of course, it's only six and half years in the past.

Like the blog, Flickr automatically totals all the viewings I get. And like the blog, these have had their ups and downs, but have mostly accelerated in the last three years. I suppose that once a website reaches a 'critical mass', so to speak, it can't help sucking in more and more viewings, be they ever so casual or accidental. An analogy with the hoovering behaviour of an astronomical black hole suggests itself here, but perhaps that would be too fanciful, apart from being an unnecessary digression! What I'm saying is that with more and more viewings, both the blog and the Flickr site have become bigger targets for people searching the web for something they want, and this may explain the accelerating accumulation of hits - rather than any intrinsic merit in the posts on the blog (i.e. exciting and original writing) or the photos displayed on Flickr (i.e. exciting and original photos).

I'm not putting myself down. Occasionally, like everyone else, I do write a post worth reading. It shows up in the viewing figures. And I'm happy when it happens. But I also write a lot of stuff that, frankly, has limited interest for anyone else, though justified because this is supposed to be a write-as-you-go 'autobiography'. And in any case, this isn't a blog in hock to advertisers who can insist on what I can and can't write about. Similarly with the photos on Flickr: my shots of, say, New Zealand or Stonehenge or some event in Brighton are nothing special; but once in a while I do capture something unusual, or unrepeatable, or in a way that nobody else has. But then everyone has luck like that now and then.

Nothing goes 'viral'. But at the same time certain posts have proved very popular. At the present time, for instance, my top ten posts have garnered a total of 87,000 viewings between them. That's insignificant in terms of national media broadcasting, or the book sales (and tweets) of the most well-known authors. But to my mind it's some evidence at least that I ought to carry on, making myself ready for the moment that My Book - we all have at least one book in ourselves - clamours for creation and release, like a literary Frankenstein's monster. (I have the blood all ready)

As for the Flickr photos, the top ten there have gathered in a more modest 14,000 viewings between them. But the total viewings for all the photos set up on Flickr has now exceeded 802,000. This was what I saw on my PC screen last night:

That's 802,362 to be precise. Which blows the mere 595,000-odd viewings on the blog right out of the water.

I am in awe of as many Flickr viewings as this. I struggle for an explanation, because while a blog may get itself a loyal or cult following - perhaps because the author writes in a distinct way on lively topics - it's much harder for a motley collection of photos to have that kind of appeal, especially when they don't cover anything more than what a very ordinary senior person happens to get up to. I'm puzzled.

All right, I can see that Flickr is a broader, much more 'public' platform, likely to be searched by all kinds of people, including those wanting to find free or minimal-cost shots of something they want to illustrate in a publication. I've been approached from time to time by tourist boards, special-interest societies and authors for such pictures. The latest, within the last few days, was the New Zealand children's author Philippa Werry (see and, who wanted to use a shot of mine, taken in a church at Tiki Tiki on the remote eastern seaboard of North Island, New Zealand.

But what motivates most of the other 802,000-odd people who have bothered to look at my pictures? It's largely a mystery. I can't see any pattern. Perhaps they hope for glimpses of my car, or latest bag. Who can say.

As for the future, I will continue to write blog posts and upload photos for as long as doing so gives me pleasure and seems to have some point. And the viewing numbers will of course steadily grow. But to get all this in perspective, even if we assume (when the viewing totals on Flickr exceed one million) that literally one million individuals looked at the pictures on display, that would still be only one in seven thousand of all the people on earth. Huh! Not so impressive!

And why should I care, anyway? I'm not in a ratings war. I just like sharing my life.

1 comment:

  1. Now I know why I can't find stats on my little Flickr account - I haven't upgraded to Pro. I could add up the hits on every photo, but don't think I'll bother.


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