Last Saturday I briefly visited Indie Webcamp in Amsterdam. I was able to join a discussion on how to POSSE your photos to Flickr. I had no idea what that meant, as I’m not immersed in IndieWeb lingo, but it was clear to me that I could learn something, as a long term Flickr member.

The main question we started with was if it would be technically possible to publish your photos on your own domain and then automatically send them to Flickr. The discussion ended with the conclusion that it would be very difficult to emulate the beautiful interface Flickr comes with for presenting your photos, in albums and including all metadata. And no-one present knew how to POSSE your photos to Flickr.

One thing kept me thinking over the weekend though. When asked, nobody present at the table was having any objection to uploading photos to Flickr. There was an ironic laugh at that, because this was a group that was actively promoting individual ownership of ones online data.

But when I think of it, it’s not such a weird conclusion after all. The idea behind IndieWeb:

your content stays yours and in your control.

Uploading your photos to Flickr, to share them with friends and family (and the general public) is mainly for its convenience: it is a better presentation of your photos and saves anyone from the burden of downloading many gigabytes of (unwanted) data. However, the photos you upload are a copy. While uploading them to a different server owned by Flickr, you still own them. You have them stored somewhere on a location you own and have exclusive access to.

When it comes to posting to Facebook or Twitter, you play a different game. You write and post it on their servers, therefore those companies own your data, not you. A photo (or video for that matter) is a special kind of data. Its file size creates limitations to its distribution, but no matter where it’s uploaded, it is always owned by its creator first. Status updates on any platform are owned by the company first and can only be copied to the creator. That is why I think it’s important to use IndieWeb: if you publish updates on your own site and then POSSE them to the big silos (where your friends still hang out), you own your updates first, just like you own your photos.