open the past, create the future

etech05:day 1:flickr

stewart butterfield: don’t ask him about the takeover :)

He is giving overview of Flickr.

His talk is on using websertvices as a strategy for a startup – open up and let go.

The Flickr API has 62 methods – atomic pieces of functionality.

They have found that in providing the API they have garnered a lot of trust from folks that would otherwise be nervous about giving important content to someone else (ie. photos).

Credibility particularly with the alpha geek community who have proven very influential, utililty, openness also meant that had to be more disciplined and of course it triggered a huge wave of creativity and created a massive community.

Downside: scalability issues – they lost control over the pace that things happened, they had to deal with other people’s bugs (a big issue).
More subtle issues: privacy/copyright, more support costs, a bunch of business risks – forced to confront issues before they were necessarily ready.

eg., flickr postcards, flickrgraph, 43 things, flickr world map (,,

4-5% of traffic is API traffic.

webservices for start-ups good but scary.


Filed under: conference

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