The Demise of Facebook Photo Albums

January 27, 2014 § 2 Comments


If you compare my previous two blog posts to all of my other ones, you’ll see that I don’t normally include this many photos, especially personal ones. Normally, if I had a lot of pictures I wanted my friends to see, I would put them in a Facebook album. I used to spend a decent amount of time choosing/editing photos and writing clever captions for my FB photo albums, especially when I was doing fun things like traipsing around Hong Kong. And I totally judge people who dump all 260 of their blurry vacation photos into an album.

But recently I’ve felt that the FB album is…dying. With the rise of Instagram, and especially after it got integrated into FB newsfeeds, the act of uploading or interacting with a photo is that much more temporary. Even people who don’t use Instagram behave like this — my mother, who put together dozens of huge (physical) photo albums in me and my brother’s formative years, is now obsessed with uploading one-at-a-time pictures of sunsets, homemade biscotti, etc. onto FB. (I do find it rather endearing and entertaining.)

Mean Girls gifThe way we interact with media has undoubtedly changed. People take literally less than a second to scroll past a photo on their feed; what’s going to make them stop and click through an entire album? Pages of gifs on Buzzfeed are the exception, I suppose.

This change makes me a bit sad. Photo albums are good for storytelling. You can see a setting, zoom in on the food, zoom out to see the people, follow the camera from place to place. One snapshot isn’t nearly enough to get all that information. Besides, because most of these photos are taken spontaneously and/or with a phone, the quality (content, composition, whatever) usually sucks, unless you’re some kind of pro Instagrammer with hundreds of followers and really great lighting.

Anyway, what it boiled down to was that I had a ton of photos from winter break, and I didn’t want to simply upload them to FB because nobody would see them. Thus, they made it onto my blog instead, which was the obvious solution if I was interested in telling a story. I’m not saying that all 1,000+ of my FB friends read this blog, but I believe it served my purpose better in this case.

As for social media, I’m curious to see whether people will find another platform to store and share their photo collections, or if social photography has more or less permanently evolved to instapix.

In the future, I’d love to spend time putting together physical photo albums like my mother did. It’s always such a treat to flip through the thick, yellowing pages to see what we all looked like in the ’90s. (I was scrawny and very nerdy-looking. #teamglasses) Of course, that would require me to figure out how to actually get photos printed, a modern-yet-retro convenience that I never got around to learning, like operating a manual car wash or dishwasher. One thing at a time!


Me at around 9 years old, from a family photoshoot we did (minus dad) in China

Social Media Barrage

January 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

On Friday, Al Jazeera posted a video newsclip about “South Korea’s Pop Wave.” I saw it tweeted from their Twitter account, which I follow, and clicked because it piqued my interest. Hmm, I thought. K-pop is ostensibly gaining exposure in America, and now Al Jazeera is reporting on it? Interesting. I got distracted by other things on Twitter before having a chance to get back to the video, but when I did, I realized that I didn’t feel like watching it anymore. As a [waning] K-pop fan, I don’t need some out-of-touch reporter telling me what to think of the industry. [Apparently I’m still afflicted with sentiments of a teenager at times.]

However, good old AJ just wouldn’t let it rest. Over the past few days, I have seen this story tweeted countless times from the one account — I’ve been following them for some time now, and I guess it just dawned on me that their approach to social media is to highlight stories over and over again like a desperate child with Tourette syndrome trying to be noticed, though it’s especially bad with this story. I mean, sometimes they even tweet the same story twice in a row for no apparent reason. What’s the point? What’s the strategy here? Who manages this account, a horde of robot monkeys?

Was it because the death count rose to more than “dozens”?

Al Jazeera tweets a lot, which not only oversaturates followers’ feeds but also trains followers to ignore the majority of them. I had never paid that much attention before because none of their articles quite caught my eye like the unexpected phrase “K-pop.” And you know what, maybe they’re onto something, for the more controversial of their K-pop tweets [AKA the ones that mention corruption or a “dark side”] get plenty of retweets. In any case, I decided to document Al Jazeera’s gauche behavior as a cautionary tale. I even replied to one of their tweets with a hesitant cease-and-desist, which did absolutely nothing. [Their account never replies to followers anyway.] If you would like to argue in their favor, I’d like to hear it!

These are in chronological order, from the first innocuous tweet to the most recent one, which I believe isn’t the last of them…

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