On flickr, delicious and Yahoo Pipes…

According to Slideshare, it was four years ago that I ran a series of social bookmarking workshops in the OU:

At the time, I was a fan of delicious (still am), because it did what it did and it did it well enough. As part of the workshop, I tried to encourage folk to use delicious, but I also ran an “OU unofficial” version of Scuttle for folk to use if they preferred using a locally hosted social bookmarking app. (A few did, at first, but the folk who got value from social bookmarking tended to then move on to delicious, so I shut the open.ac.uk hosted version of Scuttle down.)

With the future of delicious uncertain, I wonder whether Scuttle has continued in development, and whether it’s worth setting up again?

As to the continuity of flickr – I guess I need to have a think about what to do if flickr goes down. As a paid up premium user, I have thousands of images on flickr, many of them screenshots which are served to this blog. If flickr were to die, I’d need to get the images moved elsewhere, and the links updated in this blog. I’m not sure how to do this? Anyone got any good ideas given this is a WordPress hosted blog (and the fact I don’t want to have to pay for image storage on WordPress – unless Automattic buy flickr???)

And then there’s Yahoo Pipes. As far as I know, it hasn’t been mentioned in any of the recent reports around Yahoo’s portfolio reorganisation, but who knows how safe it is? I’ve posted before wondering about what happens if yahoo pipes dies?, and thanks to Greg Gaughan there’s now an exporter and partial runner for pipes using Pipe2Py and the Google Apps Pipes Engine. All that’s needed now is for someone to come up with a UI that generates the Pipes JSON export format… There are a few possible candidates out there, but nothing that hits the sweet spot yet, so if you fancy having a go, let me know (I probably won’t be able to help with the code, but I can try out the UI and help test any outputs within Pipe2Py…)

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a Senior Lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...

8 thoughts on “On flickr, delicious and Yahoo Pipes…”

  1. I what tangled set of delcious pipes we weave, what if they flickr out on us?

    D’Arcy Norman hopped right on the Scuttle train, http://www.darcynorman.net/2010/12/16/post-delicious-com-hysteria/

    I like you (maybe) am worried less about having a place to store my own bookmarks, there are scads of services, some maybe fly by night, and others look more serious. That is a minor issue.

    The bigger one is all the sites I had set up to be populated by feeds and delicious widgets. But they sky has not fallen yet- there is no word if the entire thing will be unplugged or just not supported further. Or maybe its all a ploy for people to step and and put some money behind it. On a whole, Yahoo has demonstrated a colossal bungle on hoe to handle a situation like this, and their communication has been as clear as sludge.

    But a lot of people are missing the point, all they are posting about is other places to move their bookmarks. The thing we lose when it all becomes a bookmark diaspora is the group effect of a lot of people tagging in one place. D’Arcy will say there is some way to federate distributed bookmarking, but I dont see it yet.

    I really cannot see them stickin a fork in flickr, unless Yahoo is truly possessed by mad demons of destruction. delicious was never set up or designed or advanced to generate revenue, did they miss an opportunity to link it to ads? Flickr, which may not be a huge part of Yahoo’s income, at least brings in money from Pro accounts. If they killed flickr there would be a mad mob, including me, massing on their headquarters (and posting photos of its burned embers in Picassa).

    But I agree that it was odd that Pipes was not on the list of services to be flushed. We could speculate from here til next Tuesday, ’cause Yahoo has no voice.

    Interesting times indeed.

    1. I sort of agree and sort of disagree with the above. For me, delicious was always handy as a cloud based/accessible from anywhere service to outboard my memory; the feeds meant I could use it as a database; the social side, i occasionally get on with but often ignore.

      When I used to do the social bookmarking service, I always said it had utility as a single user app, and suspect a large numbe rof folk use it that way (often as a bookmark and forget service, I suspect)…

      As to extracting value from it – there is an obvious ad opportunity (but how often do users of delicious click on eg facebook or google ads…?) It could also have been useful as a “search wiki” like service sending signals to the search ranking engine. I personally see something there (though not still fully sure what) in being able to identify groups around links, or common sets of links on a particular topic (the sort of thing that might be used to identify a set of resources on a topic, or a “linking community” cf twitter hashtag communities…

      As to pipes, if it goes under I hope they release the front end UI code via YUI…

  2. Since being “gifted” a pro Flickr account, I felt the lock in after one year, when I thought I’d stop paying. Rather than just throttle my use from that point on, they applied the limits to all photos loaded as a pro as well. So I had no choice but to pay again if I wanted to see my picks again.

    I started looking for a Flickr downloader. There are a few. But the one I think you’ll like more is Backupify. It makes copies of it all, complete with URLs. It has a crappy interface though, its more like a back end data base. I reckon a guy like you will make magic. So you can keep using Flickr, Backupify it all, and be less locked by Flickr.

    Of course, nothing’s to stop all this happening to Backupify too. In fact, its probably more likely. So a distributor tool that takes photos from your backupify and posts them to Picasa. I’ve reached my limit with Picasa already, and am reluctant to pay for more storage in case I find out they do what Flickr does and turn off images if fees aren’t paid.

    1. I hadn’t fully thought through what it would mean if I stopped paying flickr, and the hassle the “consequences” would cause.

      At the moment I’m also on the WordPress.com treadmill, partly because I don’t want to have to keep a self-hosted version properly maintained (i.e. I don’t want to have to cope with the hassle if anything goes wrong, either with the hosting (which would have to be paid for…) or the installation).

      If there was a $20 fee for a flickr images to WordPress migration, that would look through all the flickr images in my blog posts, check to see if they’re mine, and if so, import the image and rewrite the URL to a local hosted copy, I think I’d go for that… T least then, everything would be in one place, blog wise…

      Things are slightly complicated, of course, because I have removed the flickr photo page “wrapper” URL from many of the images so that clicked on images point to what the image depicts (such as a web app), rather than the photo page, but I think I can still pull the photo ID out of the direct image URL.

      For example, the image http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5003/5279995767_c0691beaf1.jpg refers to photo with ID 5279995767, so I could detect if the image was one of mine by checking to see if http://www.flickr.com/photos/psychemedia/5279995767/ exists? Or maybe there’s a flickr API call that returns the owner given a photo ID? Ah, yes, there is: flickr.photos.getInfo [ http://www.flickr.com/services/api/flickr.photos.getInfo.html ]

      I wonder – is there a way of exporting posts, and then replacing/updating them by importing the export file? Or are new URLs assigned? I guess new post IDs would be?

  3. I installed scuttle the day of the delicious leak. It works “ok” though is definitely nowhere near as polished as delicious. It does support the basic delicious API and import bookmarks from there quite well. From the perspective of using as a single user it seems close-ish; I will keep my instance running but probably use delicious right up until the end.

    What interests me at this point is what a federation of such local installations looks like. What are the pieces any of us need to export and what are the pieces we’d like to be able to see in other services? Because this is just one of umpteen cases over the last little while prompting us to rethink the architecture of these apps. Not that web-based is bad. Not that we need to each and every one of us host our own. There is a nice middle ground that we need to explore. I am interested in co-op hosting; e.g. D’Arcy hosts the bookmark tool, I host the status.net twitter-clone, someone else hosts the blogging platform, etc. All on open source tools that export easily and federate with other instances. I know this sounds like a pipe dream, and even 5 years ago it still was, but it seems very doable now, indeed in some cases already done. Given not just this occurence but things like wikileaks and the strangling of speech by corporate hosts, it feels even more important now to get on which this.

    1. The co-operative idea is an interesting one; if you’re a sys admin with the expertise and workflows already in place that removes the uncertainty associated with self-hosting, and the total confusion that arises if something goes wrong, then I guess looking after a small server wouldn’t be too much of a burden, especially if trusted others were co-operatively hosting complementary services that you could trustfully(?!) make use of. (It’s late, vocab is failing me… season’s break beckons!)

      The main question arises – under what conditions would co-op service providers accept (new) members?

    2. There are a number of examples of hosting co-ops, as you probably know. I’ve been thinking about the same thing, but then figured it might be better to contribute to the work of an existing co-op rather than start another one.

      Here’s a list of the type of collectives I’m interested in:


      Autistici provide WPMU/BuddyPress and Scuttle among many other services.

      In the UK, there’s also http://www.aktivix.org/ who I’m recently in contact with.

      If we started something ourselves, we could work with an existing group and borrow rack space from them. e.g. http://seaccp.org/

      In the UK, there’s Eco-host, a tech co-op that has servers in bunkers close to where I live, powered by wind farms. I use them to host Transition Lincoln’s website. We could approach them.

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