Sunday, January 18, 2009

My Friend, Flickr

As noted in At Long Last..., my brother's interest in geneaology sent me a-googling. Imagine my delight when I stumbled upon a gorgeous 1914 photo of my Grandfather Walker's Ann Arbor taxi company with his dad posing in the driveway.

This discovery formed a notion of collecting enough old and new photos of Ann Arbor to make my dad (an Ann Arbor native) a calendar for his January birthday. But when I moved to Flickr searches, the whole nature of the project changed. I accessed the collections of thousands of photographers and uploaders. With so many options, I ended up compiling and publishing an iPhoto hard cover book that, modesty aside, is really pretty cool.

The most unexpected pleasure of this project was the social interaction I had with the photographers. Over thirty conveyed well-wishing permissions. Some like Jeff Lamb, and Bonnie Reardon, and Gary Priest took the time over the holidays to look for high resolution jpegs and send them by email so that I could print the best photos available.

Flickr has terrific potential for the classroom. Many of the photos are in the Creative Commons, so students and teachers can freely use them, sometimes even for "mash-ups". The Library of Congress has just added a fabulous Photostream that I have only just begun to explore. I use Flickr to decorate my blog and Twitter pages. For school, Flickr photos now supplement a Third Man Slide Show and appear in a new wiki I have started.

I would love to hear your idea for tapping into this vast treasure trove.

The Grad" Phil Dokas

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