Is SxSW Swamping TwitPic? Or is TwitPic just Unreliable?

Until yesterday, my experience with TwitPic had been quite good. If you’re not familiar, TwitPic is a utility that lets you upload pictures from your iPhone (if it’s available for Blackberry, please let me know) to Twitter using clients like Twitterific or Twittelator, and publish a link to the photo as part of your tweet. TwitPic was profiled in Twitter 121.

For example, it worked well on Saturday when I attended the Austin boys’ section semifinal basketball game at Rochester’s Mayo Civic Center, and uploaded a picture just after the game started. Here was my tweet:


And the photo was just as I had expected.

But yesterday I experienced something, as Monty Python would say, “completely different.”

I snapped a picture of a slide from presentation I was watching, and uploaded it with this tweet:


Let’s just say the photo my Tweeps saw when they clicked the link wasn’t what I had uploaded.  (The second time it worked.)

A similar thing happened a bit later when I took a photo of a a former colleague during our dinner:


Here was the photo that showed up:


That picture doesn’t look anything like Chris! And it gives the impression that he was having digestive difficulties. 😉

I’ve heard that all the iPhone users at South by Southwest (SxSW) 2009 have overwhelmed the network capacity at the location with their TweetingDo you think this might have had anything to do with the TwitPic failures I experienced yesterday? That maybe lots of pictures were being uploaded at once, and somehow the links got switched? Have you had any problems with TwitPic?

I know that based on this experience I’m going to be extremely reluctant to upload work-related photos to TwitPic, until I find out what caused this problem and what has been done to resolve it. If you can’t trust that the photo you’re uploading will be the one linked in your Tweet, how can you use TwitPic?

TwitPic = FAIL

Twitter 121: Sharing Photos with TwitPic

Note: This is the first in a series of reviews of third-party applications that are part of the Twitter ecosystem. If you would like to write a review of another application, please contact the Chancellor about becoming a SMUG Associate Professor.

Twitpic is a site that lets you share photos using your Twitter account. It’s easy to use; You don’t even need to sign up separately. You just log in with your Twitter username and password:


Then, from the main page you can click the “Upload Photo” link:


This starts a three-step process. First you select your image (I chose for the sake of illustration to use the same image I embedded above):


Then you enter information about the photo, including where it was taken and tags. If you use a real address, the photo will show up in a Google maps mash-up. I’m trying a non-standard approach for this one:


Finally, you enter your Tweet and hit “Post It”


Here’s what the Tweet will look like in your timeline on Twitter:


The link to your photo shows up right after your username, and if people click that link they can see and comment on it.


And of course, their comments also become Tweets:


And from the TwitPic site you can share the photo via several other social networking platforms:


Lest you think TwitPic is just for screen shots, here’s the first photo I shared via TwitPic. I was in San Francisco earlier this year and caught my first foul ball at a major league baseball game.


  1. Sign up for Twitter if you haven’t previously.
  2. Comment on my baseball photo.
  3. Follow me on Twitter (I’ll follow you back.)
  4. Upload your own photo to TwitPic.

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Facebook 108: Photo Sharing and Tagging

Flickr is a fantastic photo-sharing community, but it’s not the biggest one.

Facebook is.

More than 10 billion photos have been uploaded to Facebook, and more than 30 million new photos are uploaded every day.

Flickr is great for sharing photos with the world, with people you don’t know. Facebook is for sharing photos with your friends.

And after all, for most people, aren’t your friends the people you want to see your pictures?

One of my first “Aha!” moments with Facebook came when my daughter Rebekah went to her high school Homecoming as a sophomore. Many of her classmates attended the same pre-Homecoming party, and everyone took pictures of everyone else, and uploaded them to Facebook, tagging their friends who appeared in the pictures. If there were 50 girls each taking 50 pictures, that’s 2500 photos from that party alone. I can’t imagine those girls moving to another social networking site and abandoning their Homecoming photos (and those from Prom and other high school events.)

And if the girls aren’t leaving, neither are the boys. I also wonder what impact Facebook is having on the high school yearbook business. How great will the demand be for these bound and printed keepsakes, when so many of kids’ high school memories are available online in Facebook?

But I digress. The point of this course is to show you how easy it is to upload photos to Facebook to share with friends, and how tagging lets them (and their friends) know that the photos are there. Here’s a quick video tutorial I did, using some photos from our preparation of “Old Main” for the Holiday Tour of Homes, a fundraiser for our local chapter of the American Red Cross:



  1. Join Facebook if you haven’t previously. (Which would tell me you’ve skipped some of the earlier 100-level Facebook prerequisites, in which case you might want to go through Facebook 101 and 102.)
  2. Upload a photo of yourself with an appropriate caption, to the SMUG Facebook group. Be sure to “tag” yourself so you see how the photo shows up in your minifeed and news feed.
  3. Think about the implications of photo sharing and tagging in Facebook for social media projects you might want to start for your work-related or community organizations.

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Why Facebook Won’t Be Friendster

This weekend I got another firsthand view of why, despite suggestions that today’s kids will chase after whatever is the next new shiny toy, Facebook will have long-term staying power.

I witnessed scores of young ladies (the young men were much less active in this) taking pictures of each other and their dates at the Austin, Minn. High School Prom. Then two of them who are really close to me came home the next evening and started uploading dozens photos to Facebook, and tagging all of their friends.

So, for example, here is a pre-prom picture that showed up in my news feed, after Bekah tagged me:

And here’s a partial group picture from one of the early Saturday evening events:

Some observers warn that Facebook will become uncool because people like me (or at least in my age group) can be members. Others say the concern is that with Facebook being a “walled garden” in which your data goes in but doesn’t come out, users will rebel because they want data portability.

I don’t buy either of those arguments. Facebook’s variable privacy settings (as described in Facebook 210) mean people of all ages can coexist in the same social networking space, just as we all formerly used the same land-line phone network and now use interoperable digital cell phones with text messaging.

Just because we have the technical ability to interact through cell phones doesn’t mean I’m regularly “texting” people of my daughters’ generation. But it doesn’t stop us from peacefully coexisting in the same digital spectrum. And if I needed to reach one of them in an emergency, being able to send a message through Facebook may be just the ticket.

Likewise, I only know one of their peers who’s using Twitter. This tool of the geeky set has a lot of potential, but hasn’t broken through to mass appeal in anything like the numbers that Facebook has, partly because a lot of people look at it and can’t immediately see what good it will do them. But if they ever discover Twitter, they won’t let the fact that Robert Scoble and I are using it keep them from taking advantage of its wonderfulness.

They don’t have a problem figuring Facebook’s functionality, though, which is why it’s the top photo-sharing site on the Internet. It’s just simple to use, and over their high school and college years they will load lots of memories to these servers.

Unlike the data portability purists, who want the ability to integrate data from all sorts of yet-to-be-invented services into whatever container site they desire, my daughters and their friends just want to be able to connect with each other easily. And they LOVE Facebook Chat. Data portability means nothing to them. Functionality does. They want to be where their friends are, and they don’t particularly care about the identity of Facebook’s other 70 million active users.

As long as Facebook keeps developing and improving its service and doesn’t violate their trust in a way that creeps them out, the likelihood that many of its younger users will bail for another network is remote. And as they see how friend lists can make it reasonably easy to separate personal and professional networks in one site, they’ll be less inclined to join a network like LinkedIn.

I still think LinkedIn is likely to do well in the long term, because it has a critical mass in business networking. But with 14 million photos uploaded to Facebook daily, I see its critical mass continuing to grow as well. People aren’t going to lightly leave a few hundred friends and their photos behind.

What do you think? The growth in Facebook’s reported number of active users seems to be slowing somewhat, but do you see anything on the horizon that would cause it to decline? Any possibility of a recession (two quarters of negative growth) for Facebook?