I’m very pleased to be part of a new project that has just launched today. Indicommons is a new blog celebrating the Flickr Commons and its content.
indico: to proclaim, make publicly known
The Flickr group Flickr Commons was born out of one fan’s desire to show her support for The Commons. Anna Graf’s creation of this group also answered new needs, ones that hadn’t been spoken: it created a home for all those people commenting, tagging, researching, and simply enjoying themselves — somewhere to bring them all together to share their passion for The Commons. They turned up — not only regular Flickr members like us but also Commons institution staff and Flickr staff — full of ideas and enthusiasm and passion to do amazing things, and committed to actually doing them.
Indicommons (“in de commons”) arose quickly out of this new group. We wanted to let not just Flickr members but everyone know how exciting The Commons is. Today on Indicommons you’ll find an interview with the Brooklyn Museum’s Shelley Bernstein, plus examples of members’ choices from the collections, group member research into an individual photograph, then and now subcuration, and cross-Commons mash-ups – just a sampling of what we know is possible and what you’ll find here.
A public beta of Version 2 of my Flickr Set Manager is now available for all to use here. Please remember, this is beta software and is subject to change. There are still a few things I plan on tidying up a little over the next week or two, and there will probably be a few user interface tweaks too.
If you don’t want all the whizzy new features, version 1 is still available here.
To celebrate the launch of the version 2, I’ve created a new group on Flickr for discussion about the set manager. If you have any comments on it, or would like to report a bug, please go there to do so.
I know, I know, I’ve said a couple of times that I was hoping to get the new Set Manager launched before the new year. As you can see, that hasn’t happened. I’ve been taking an extended break over the Christmas period, and for once have been unusually successful in my goal to spend less time sat at my computer. I’ll be gently easing myself back into work mode later on next week, so things will soon start moving again.
In the meantime, I still have a few more days of curling up on the sofa, relaxing in front of the fire. Now where did I leave my mulled wine…?
In the three years since I created it, my Flickr Set Manager has turned out to be amazingly popular, with one of the most-liked features being the automatic updating of sets. Of course, the problem with being popular, is that there are then an awful lot of sets to update. And I do mean an awful lot.
I am sometimes asked if sets can be automatically updated more often than they currently are – perhaps every hour, or if I can arrange for them to be updated at a specific time of day. The answer is very simple – no, that’s just not really possible. The script that keeps the sets updated runs continuously, and just about manages to keep up with the amount of work it currently has to do.
There are a couple of things that need to be considered here. The first is the processing power required to keep these sets up to date. Yesterday, I moved dopiaza.org over to a new server that has plenty of spare capacity – that should help keep things running smoothly for the forseeable future. The second thing that needs consideration is the Set Manager’s use of the Flickr API.
For some time now, I have been stretching the limits of my Flickr API key somewhat – Flickr allow free non-commercial use of the API, but they do ask you to limit calls to the API to an acceptable rate. As the popularity of the set manager has increased over time, so has its usage of the Flickr API, and the time has come to restructure things a little.
I have spent some time recently rewriting large chunks of the Set Manager, and the first set of changes were rolled out yesterday as part of the site move. This particular batch of changes are all about making the application more Flickr-friendly.
- The set generation code has been extensively rewritten and is now much more efficient – particularly for random sets.
- There are quite a few sets in the system that are still marked as “automatically regenerate” but are actually now redundant (for example, the searches used to construct them no longer ever return any matching photos). With immediate effect, automatically generated sets that continually fail to find matching photos will have automatic regeneration disabled.
- The rebuilding of sets is now throttled at a much lower level than previously. This means that it may now be longer than a single day before sets are refreshed. I will be monitoring this interval, and continue to fine tune things. The goal is still to have sets updated once per day, but there may be a short hiatus whilst the new code settles in.
These ‘behind-the-scenes’ changes are largely invisible to the user, but are the precursor to something much more interesting. There is a whole new Set Manager in development, with a shiny new interface. There’s still some work to do, but I’m hoping we’ll be ready for launch this side of the new year. Here are a few screenshots as a sneak preview: