on photoblogging services

research for ubiquitous computing for mobile devices:

I’ve tried several of the popular photoblogging / moblogging apps, including TextAmerica and Flickr. Both operate on the concept of emailing a photo from your cameraphone to a unique email address which automatically posts the photos to your account.

In TextAmerica‘s case, your moblog is hosted on their servers — i.e., http://schwa23.textamerica.com

With Flickr, they are added to your Photostream and show up automatically in your Flickr page. One nice feature of Flickr is the ability to set up your flickr account to post to your blog. They support movable type, blogger, wordpress, and typepad to name a few; from your flickr profile you configure your details. Then, when browsing flickr you can hit the “Blog This!” button to blog any photo. What makes this interesting is that when you configure your custom email address for sending photos to your stream, you can create a second email address that, in addition to your Flickr page, will automatically post the photos to your blog as well.

A note on custom email addresses: Flickr creates emails using a couple of random words and a number, like “tree89lock@flickr.com” and then for your blog “tree89lockblog@flickr.com”. I think this is an interesting alternative to parsing for keywords in the message, a la dodgeball. Granted, as commands get more complex, having multiple email addresses might not be suitable, but I like having address book entries that perform specific commands, instead of having to remember (somewhat) arcane syntax.

I prefer Flickr’s implementation to textamerica’s, both because I like keeping my photos integrated into my flickr page, and because I have my own blog that I’d prefer to update, as opposed to a ‘textamerica’ blog. That said, I haven’t been using the email-to-photostream option lately because I’ve been using a new application called Shozu.

Shozu is an app that you install on your phone that integrates with your phone’s photo functions to automatically upload photos to a photo service like TextAmerica or Flickr (they also support Webshots).

Shozu has a few advantages over the email method. First of all, it happens in the background. After you snap a picture, a quick prompt appears giving you the option to upload the photo to the web. If you select it, shozu silently uploads the photo (or movie) to the photo service you have setup. You can later open the shozu app in order to post comments or tags to the photo (you can also set default tags for shozu-uploaded applications). This of course requires a data plan (as opposed to being able to send MMS’s to an email address), but it has less data overhead than an email encoded with attachments, which makes it cheaper and faster.

I like the shozu app. It’s for series60 and windows mobile phones right now, which makes it slightly less than ubiquitous, but very cool nonetheless. UPDATE: Andy Tiller comments below to let me know it’s also available for UIQ (Symbian) phones, and as a J2ME app for Sony Ericsson phones as well.

2 thoughts on “on photoblogging services

  1. Thanks for your nice comments about ShoZu. There is a J2ME version – currently for Sony Ericsson handsets, but other phone types are in the works. ShoZu is also available for UIQ.

    Andy Tiller, CTO Cognima (creators of ShoZu)

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