The Hidden Cost of Photo Sharing Services
Web 2.0 Backlash – the Shift in Content Ownership
The Year of User-Generated Content
"Person of the Year: You," proclaimed the December 2006 issue of Time magazine. This annual honor was given to anyone using or creating content on the Web. It was an acknowledgement of community and collaboration on an unprecedented scale. Through the World Wide Web, online services like YouTube and Flickr, and social media sites like MySpace and Facebook have given people the platform and tools for self expression in exchange for owning the user-generated content.
Who is making money from that user-generated content? Not the user.
Content Held Hostage
Millions of users have turned to Web 2.0 companies to help them share their content online because these services make it easy to do so. Although many photo sharing services, video sites and blog posts are "free" to the user, what's the real cost? Control. Because these services are web based, users upload their media and in turn, give up control. The user's content now resides with the web service – and shares its fate. If the service goes out of business, media can be lost. That content isn't easily moved, which locks users into communities and business decisions that are made to benefit the community: which vendors to use, how much to compress media to conserve server space, how the content is displayed online and how much to charge users.
Online services make money from users in different ways, in the case of photo sharing, through subscription-based services, fees and commissions, or requirements to purchase a minimum amount of add-ons like prints, calendars and coffee mugs. In the case of "free" services, their primary concern is ensuring there are more eyeballs for generating more ad revenue. While this advertising business model exposes user content to the masses, it comes at the expense of user creative expression and control.
Users need a new way to share content online – a hybrid solution that lets users control and monetize their media while taking advantage of the reach and popularity of the web and social networks.
Shifting Ownership Back to the User
To truly own their content, users must have total control, from end-to-end, outside of the proprietary Web 2.0 sandbox. How can users be empowered? The answer lies in making it easy and compelling for people to integrate and control their own online content. They need a user-controlled tool for creative expression on the web while keeping the advantages of online services and social networks. There is a new software program that automates the process of getting content on the web, agnostic of the ultimate online destination. It brings together the best of client-side and web server-side applications, and actually shifts control back to users. It frees users from dependency on online services, gives them true control of their content while letting them extend their media throughout the web.
Shozam Web Gallery Generator is a new software suite that creates full-featured web-ready galleries that showcase users' digital media. Images, video, audio and text are all brought together in one easy-to-create web gallery that can be posted to any webhost or social network site. Shozam is a tool, not a Web 2.0 service. It is the only software on the market today that provides advanced features and flexibility in an easy-to-use package. For the first time, users can easily create and control their own customized, professionally-designed multimedia galleries to showcase, share and sell their images, their way. Shozam gives users control while enabling them to take advantage of social networks and other user-driven content sites by generating code that creates gorgeous widgets that are easy to place in any network.
The Forefront of Content Ownership
With content ownership comes the ability to monetize. Shozam enables users to sell their images with PayPal and display ads on their sites with Google AdSense. Because Shozam resides on the user's PC, generated web galleries are "portable" between PCs and webhosts and social networks. Galleries can be created and updated offline, moved easily from webhost to webhost, or even burned to CD and given to others for on-the-spot immediacy and impact.
Community and collaboration are integral to the web experience, but they should not come at the expense of content ownership, portability and all-around freedom. Applications which truly empower users will have a combination of client-side and web server-side elements, providing the best of both worlds. Shozam leads this new hybrid category of easy-to-use, self-empowerment web tools that will shift control back where it belongs: to the user. As the online services market becomes even more crowded and commoditized, Web 2.0 companies will have no choice but to follow user demand for real content ownership and control.
And with that shift will come the benefits of ownership: user choice, flexibility and the ability to monetize their content.
"Shozam has addressed problems that have bedeviled us. We can upload many images quickly and add the look of our existing site by copying across HTML. It is remarkable!"
Geoffrey Alexander, Galashiels, UK
ERIBE Knitwear Design
"Shozam software is a dream come true. It puts me in control of our website."
Lydia Putney, Pt. Pleasant, WV