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Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Picture Wars

Your flickr pro-account account will expire on June 28...

Rettung ohne Untergang

Mer, my much beloved flickr has failed me, now for the second time. While I swallowed the obligation to associate my flickr-account with a Yahoo!-ID (Yahoo! acquired flickr in 2005), the recent change of terms of service that blocks content for users from certain countries is really pissing me off. I am well aware that this is by no means only flihoo's fault but rather a case of overcautious interpretation by company lawyers of stupid (German) laws. What is even worse than this mild form of censorship, however, is Yahoo!'s policy of cooperating with repressive regimes (no, I don't mean Germany) in prosecuting dissidents. I do acknowledge that any company must to a certain comply with local laws to a certain extent if it wants to stay in business. But, maybe in a similar fashion to the overcompliance to German regulations, Yahoo! has apparently shown absolutely no willingness to protect its users from the Chinese authorities. This has also become clear in last week's rejection of a proposed anti-censorship policy by Yahoo!'s shareholders.

What is to be done?

All this leads me to the conclusion that I'm not willing to renew my subscription for another year, for two main reasons. First, I don't want to give money to a corporation that does the things that I've mentioned above. Second, and maybe more important, I don't want to be stuck with flihoo for a whole year. Who knows what will come next!? Maybe you're asking yourself why the second reason is the more important one. Well, as a good Adornite I am well aware that “there is no right life in falsehood” and that the idea of making capitalism better by consumer choices is a burgeois illusion. I readily admit: I have Continental tires on my bike, I drink Starbucks coffee, I buy at Lidl. Therefore, it doesn't make a big difference if Yahoo! will get my 25 bucks or not. But paying 25 bucks for a product that might get drastically worse within the subscription period, with no chance of getting your money back, seems like a bad decision.

Unfortunately, there are a number of problems with leaving flihoo: flickr is not just some consumer product but it is a social network. Telepolis has an interesting article (German only) on how it becomes virtually impossible to switch from one network to another since this virtually means that your network disappears---my contacts, my comments, my favorites, my groups are all at flickr and not at ipernity, zoomr, 23hq or wherever. In addition, most of the alternative services simply suck when compared to flickr. Ipernity in my experience is the one closest to flickr but that's mainly because it is a very blunt knock-off, apparently even using “stolen” code.

So, in the end, what is to be done? I think I'll just wait and see. Flickr will deactivate the pro-features after the subscription ends but they can be re-activated at any time if flihoo will come to its senses.

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