Flickr is a photo-sharing site/service where anyone can upload and tag photos, browse others’ photos, and add comments and annotations. Users can create photo sets and collections to manage content, and participate in topical groups to cultivate a sense of community. Launched in February 2004, Flickr embodies what has come to be known as one of Web 2.0 popular tools. The site provides the tools, but the value derives from the contributions of the user community—photos, comments, ratings, and organization—and the connections that the site facilitates between individuals. Flickr also provides a range of privacy settings, giving users considerable control over how their photos can be used .


Although Flickr is mainly for photos, nevertheless, the site might more aptly be described as a venue for sharing experiences and creating relationships. User generated content is a hallmark of emerging technologies, and for most users, photos represent an extremely low barrier to entry for sharing creative work. Students and teacher/lecturers alike often have many photos that never find an audience. By making photos easy to share, Flickr demonstrates that contribution can be easy and that almost any shared object can find an audience. The ability to engage in a conversation about a photo, and to update that photo based on comments received, create a sense of community. In fact, Flickr users have been described as passionate in their use of the site and their belief in its value. In addition, the ubiquity and simplicity of digital cameras have made amateur photographers out of millions of people, and sites like Flickr provide a place to share photos and meet people with similar interests, even if photography is not their focus. Flickr’s support for Creative Commons licenses adds another venue for discussion about the evolving nature of copyright in the digital era.


Flickr provide an opportunity for students studying photography or other art-related subjects to receive feedback and engage with a community of experts and amateur enthusiasts, exposing students to the reality of professional practice. This dynamic can be extended to other fields, as evidenced by the success that digital storytelling projects have had in using visual media to share personal experiences. Students who are engaged with content demonstrate better learning outcomes, and the immediacy of visual media facilitates that sense of connection to subject material. In a similar fashion, Flickr exposes students to participatory learning by capitalizing on the ubiquity of digital cameras and students’ desire to share their creative work. By introducing users to social, collaborative technologies, Flickr provides an easy, comfortable platform for students to engage with content and a community in the process of collective knowledge creation.