Tagflickr

Recollecting my Instagrams & other social data

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So, Instragram announced updates to their Terms of Services. Nothing unusual about it, really, only that the updates seem to be aimed at monetizing by allowing advertisers to use your photos without prior notice or consent (besides agreeing to the ToS, obviously).

Now, often times ToS changes trigger all kinds of resentment by the user base, and in many cases it’s a matter of legalese or bad communications. Say, if a service requires consent to copying and distributing your content: Copying and distributing can easily sound like selling or licensing or doing other weird things with your data, while it might just be necessary to run the service you signed up for. After all, you can’t store a digital image without making copies of it. That kinda thing.

That said, Instagram’s new ToS seem to be more directly aimed at advertisers, and as such it’s a different game altogether. Furthermore, they’re now part of Facebook, and as such – in my eyes – much less trustworthy than a year ago. Facebook has a horrible track record of abusing users’ trust, for example by changing default privacy settings and making it unnecessarily hard to opt out of new features. So personally I’m not willing to give Instagram/Facebook the benefit of the doubt on this one.

 

But enough with the rant. The Instagram ToS kerfuffle was as good an excuse as any to eventually try out Recollect, a service run by good former Flickr engineers, who sources closer to the matter tell me are good, trustworthy folks. Moreover, they’re building a service that charges users upfront, which seems to be to be a good model of building sustainable businesses.

So what does Recollect do? Simple – it backs up data from your social media accounts. I just had Recollect gather my Tweets, Instagram and Flickr photos as well as Foursquare check-ins. You can then proceed to download them to your local machine. (In the case of Instagram, it saves everything as HTML, so you get to keep not just your photos, but faves, comments, etc.) It’s simple, and a useful thing to do if you think that archiving your data is useful at all.

Recollecting Screenshot of the Recollect dashboard. Note the activity on the different services, and how they changed over time.

 

A nice side effect: The dashboard shows you your activity on these other services. In my case, as you can see in the screenshot, I saved more than 12.000 items, including 7.500+ Flickr photos and about 1.500 Foursquare check-ins.

I won’t be losing much Instagram: Since the Android app only came out this year, I have less than 400 photos there, it’s really a minor problem. (I also had them automatically cross-posted to Flickr anyway.) It’s just a bit of a bummer that Twitter introduced an API limit awhile ago, allowing only about the last 3.000 tweets to be accessed – so for me that means I’m about six years short on Twitter archives. Which is pretty bad, and another reason to back up data there as it passes through.

I’ve only been testing Recollect for a single day yet, but I’m pretty sure I’ll keep using it and will be happy to pay the monthly fee for a reliable backup and the option to export my data whenever I choose. Recommended!

A digital inventory

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image by johannes kleske

Every day, I post to a number of web services. Quite a few actually. So here’s a quick inventory of the services that are most important in my daily life – for easier navigation, and because – let’s face it! – we all use these things in very different ways. So we can all learn from each other’s tech setups.

thewavingcat.com

This blog you’re reading just now is run on WordPress, on a cluster of Mediatemple’s Grid Service. It’s a great, open source blogging platform on a solid hosting that’s easy to use and maintain. It’s where I post (too rarely) about the stuff I do, what I think about, event announcements and the like. It’s more a log than anything else, a place for me to put stuff that I need a URL for – so it’s easier to link and refer to from other places. It’s also my homebase online.

Twitter (@peterbihr)

My second home on the web is Twitter. This is where I’m certainly most active, where I share quick thoughts, comments and most importantly, questions. What my blog lacks in terms of posting frequency I certainly make more than up for on Twitter. If you want to know what I’m thinking about, and if you don’t mind mostly unstructured thoughts & info as well as eclectic links, follow me at @peterbihr.

Tumblr

I have quite a few tumblelogs, and enjoy starting them even just for a quick joke or so. The one I use most is thewavingcat.tumblr.com, where I (mostly re-)post things I find on the web. Photos, videos, the more fluffy kind of stuff.

Flickr

Most of my photos go on my Flickr page. It’s where I upload a lot of mobile photos as well as the occasional screenshot. I use this for all kinds of purposes: as documentation, to share photos or events, and as an image database for blog posts etc. I don’t use most of the social features on Flickr, except faveing photos to find them again later. Also, the Creative Commons photo search is great to find images for blog posts. It’s both a joy and a working tool, really.

Pinboard

When there were rumors of Yahoo shutting down their social bookmarking service Delicious, I quickly migrated my data to Pinboard, and couldn’t be happier. Via bookmarklet I save all relevant links with one click, and tag them for easier re-use. We also use Pinboard as a tool for our work at Third Wave – by collaboratively saving articles with one tag that we then use to generate our weekly reading lists and other posts.

Instapaper

Are you like me and tend to curiously open all kinds of articles “to read later” until your browser has so many tabs that it won’t display the little icons anymore? Then Instapaper is for you. Via a bookmarklet you mark articles to read later, and the service collects them for you, so you can read them on a different device when you like. I hear it’s super smooth with iPads. I use the Kindle, where it’s not quite as perfect, but still worth the transfer so I can read longer articles on my next train ride or in a café.

quote.fm

If I stumble over an interesting quote, I usually tweet it or throw it on my Tumblr. However, that is changing: Since quote.fm has launched (currently in semi-private beta, I think, so keep an eye out for invites), this has becoming more and more where I send my quotes, and where I go to get some fresh ideas during the day. The strength here is that they turn quotes into social objects that can be shared and commented on. Sounds somewhat boring? Yes it does, but give it a try. It’s really very, very good. Join the conversation!

So here you have it, that’s my digital setup. What’s yours?

Image by Johannes Kleske, some rights reserved.

The sun is Constantly Setting (watch it)

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Out of Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino‘s lab comes Constant Setting, a beautiful Flickr-based mashup. Constant Setting shows us photos (released under Creative Commons, tagged on Flickr with sunset and a location), from those places where the sun is setting right now. So what happens is, you get to see a never-ending flow of sunset photos from all over the world, following the sun setting around the globe. Beautiful – make sure to switch to full screen!

Constant Setting, image courtesy Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino Image: Constant Setting, courtesy Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino

Constant Setting was created by Alexandra D.S., D’Arcy Saum and Nick Chip. Read more on Alexandra’s blog, and don’t forget to watch the sunset.