I must admit that I have not really explored Flickr as much as I should have other than setting up a pro account and uploading images as can be seen on the right of these posts. Given that many of our students are increasingly being asked to generate content that relies upon imagery to enhance or even be the focus of the content, repositories such as Flickr are going to become an increasingly important of classroom activity. As I’ve posted before there are a number of really great resources out there for teachers wanting to use Flickr.
Having students use Flickr to locate, store and share images is also a great intro to the concept of Creative Commons and how it can be used to ensure that their work doesn’t abuse the creativity of others. With every upside though comes potential downsides that need to be considered and so it seems with Flickr.
Some time back I was intrigued to receive an email from Schmap Guides Online who enable you to explore cities using maps photos and place reviews. The email asked for permission to use one of my Flickr images as an inclusion in one of their city guides. Having checked them out, (and feeling suitably chuffed, no doubt part of their strategy), I agreed to the use of my image. Thinking no more of it I was intrigued the other day to check my Flickr messages and found another nine emails from Schmap’s informing me that another nine of my images had either been shortlisted or included in the respective guides. Now maybe I had agreed to allow all of my images to be fair game in the original correspondence, (I’m not sure as I’ve deleted the emails etc), or maybe I should check my flickr messages more often, however it is salutary to know that your work is being used elsewhere. (As an aside I tag my images at the lowest level of Creative Commons licencing as I want any students who wish to use them to do so freely.)
Having experienced this I was intrigued, and a little bit disturbed then to read a recent post titled Flickr Perversion by Alec Couros. In essence what had happened is that Alex has uploaded numerous images including some of his four year old daughter that he had been informed by Flickr message that they had been favorited. Being online aware, Alec was interested in seeing what the Flickr user that had favorited his images had collected from others. As he relates
My jaw dropped to the floor.
What I saw was three pages of favorited photos of preteen girls, most shots in bathing suits or with little clothing. Had I viewed any of these photos individually, isolated from the others, I am sure that this same feeling of disgust would not have come over me. But these photos, viewed together, favorited by some anonymous user, told a very different story. These photos of these girls were without a doubt being sexualized, and my four-year-old daughter was amongst these images.
Alec goes on to explain what he did and the reasoning behind his continued use of Flickr as well as posing the question as to what can be done to counter such behaviour. Checking with the forums on Flickr it would appear that Alec’s experience is not the only one of this type. It is also apparent that given advice about innapropriate use of Flickr the organisers will act on it. The only caveat is that users should,
……. use the “Report Abuse” link found at the bottom of the page to let us know directly about something that you think may be contrary to the Community Guidelines.
Understandably Alec’s post has generated numerous comment and more than one or two posts in response. Mollybob ties together a number of thoughts in a great post titled Flickr Perversion: a Response.
Before we leave Flickr though you may be interested in compfight that is a another great Flickr search engine. Compfight searches by text or tag and also enables Searches on Creative Commons and or other licences. Be aware though that it also has a Safe Search mode that can be turned off so it should be used with discretion with students.