Community sites where strangers come together to mutually admire each other seem to be all the rage at the moment, but I’d never gotten into them to any extent until I discovered Flickr. Maybe it was just the serendipitous fact that I’d started to cultivate a casual interest in digital photography at the time when I happened to stumble across it and the excellent WordPress plugin which powers my photo gallery, but it’s really a great way to spend some time online.

It’s basically a site to upload and host your photos, but unlike the dispassionate likes of Photobucket, home to endless joke message board images, Flickr is about a community of people sharing real photographs. You get a lot of shite that I mostly couldn’t care less about like people’s birthday parties, but the real stuff – landscapes, wildlife, cityscapes, etc – can be absolutely beautiful. It really shows how the digital revolution has taken photography from a somewhat niche hobby into being something that everyone enjoys, and I’ve spent hours browsing and commenting on some great images from fun stuff (take a look at mine) to more serious matters. All the more unusual that I’ve barely even looked through a book of photographs before.

Flickr’s going to be my outlet for the photos I take when I’m in Japan and I’m thinking of getting a pro account now just because I’m having so much fun playing around it. It’s a great example of how good a web application can be and should be a lesson on how to design a powerful but incredibly simple web interface without having to pander to proprietary browser features.

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