Evan Nisselson

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Network Imaging
By John Larish

Evan Nisselson, of Eyetide Media at the recent Seybold Digital Imaging Day put an interesting focus on the opportunity and challenge of Internet imaging. Nisselson first cleared some of what he called 'Internet bad raps' or understanding or misunderstanding and directions of some people regarding the Internet.

Prior to 1995 the Internet was basically for government use only, but in 1996 people outside of the government discovered the Internet and decided it was something cool. By 1997 most people still did not understand the Internet, but already some saw that photos could be put on a Web site and there should be a way to make some money? By 1998 people decided they needed an Internet imaging strategy and by the year 1999 by hiring a staff and getting some venture capital dollars you could be in the Internet photo business, but that did not mean that you understood why people share and print photos.

Well, by 2002 some lucky ones may be making money according to Nisselson but then it will be time to get ready for the next new thing. Certainly start-up photo sites like Shutterfly, Photopoint, PhotoAccess, Snapfish, Zing, Ofoto, Club Photo, BigNose and PhotoAlley are surviving, some with staff cut-backs, but they are still operating. Add to that the more established companies that are getting into the online game like Kodak, Fuji, AOL's You've Got Pictures, Yahoo Photos, MSN Photos, Sony Imagestation, HP's Cartogra, Amazon, NikonNet, and there were certainly a few more.

What is this big paradigm shift? Nisselson says that text communication used to be the greatest online application, but with broadband, the next great application will be communicating online with photos. He says we are only in the first inning of the first game of a long baseball season. He sees this online imaging hitting the masses in the next year as the major photo initiatives start their marketing machines, add new features to their online initiatives and convince the masses that digital photography is easier to share memories and more fun. In order for Internet imaging to grow up, the industry will have to educate, add personalization and build simpler user interfaces so grandmother can teach their kids how to share memories online.

Nisselson sees some obvious things that will be required of companies to survive as a photo site. These include what he calls photo push solutions that mimic how people have been socialized to share photos and memories. Along with that there is a need for seamless Web connection to the original photo capture device and then a simple connection to computer systems and software that enables visual communication and sharing of memories, not sharing of pictures alone.

Nisselson's basic perspective is that people do not take pictures, they make pictures. A digital photo is not the goal, but a means to an end. The real goal is sharing memories and telling stories with digital photos. Here was some very sound advice from a photographer, editor, and now Internet practitioner.


© Copyright 2003, Evan Nisselson