Use the Cloud for Publishing, Not Archiving

I’m really enjoying using Flickr.com for sharing my pictures. They have a nice interface and I can publish my photos easily from iPhoto. I do mean publish. Even though I can set access groups a limit who can see certain pictures or sets, I still am careful about what I publish. Once an image is published there is no undo. Flickr has a nice “feature” that allows even private images to be accessed using a static URL. This means than any picture I publish can be shared intentionally or accidentally by someone in my trusted group.

I keep all of this in mind when I choose what to upload and what access group to use. I also limit the size of my images to 1024×1024. This is big enough for anyone to see my image but not big enough to be used for commercial purposes. Since I am altering my original image and shrinking it down, it no longer has any value as an archival source. Nor should it. You should not rely on Flickr or any other online site as the sole repository of your stuff.

This is not a commentary on Flickr. I’m sure Flickr and their parent company Yahoo! will be around for years. But with the recent shutdowns of some lesser known sites it is important to keep perspective on what these cloud services are good for. Its wonderful to have everything out in the cloud and available but that cannot be the only source. Flickr’s business is focused on publishing your photos. The archival is a secondary benefit.

I’m willing to concede one exception to this notion and that would be for services like Amazon’s S3 that claim that the archival of files is their business. When combined with a software package like Jungle Disk you get the security of an off-site backup combined with the privacy of your data. Even then, I would still want a local backup hard drive.

In summary, use Flickr to publish the photos you want the world to see but not as the archive for every picture you have ever taken.

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