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Is the Flickr API a National Treasure?

timothy posted about a year ago | from the coerce-and-control-network dept.

Software 101

First time accepted submitter somekind writes "Over the past few months Twitter imposed restrictions on the use of its client API, and Facebook shut down the facial recognition API supporting face.com after acquiring the company. Mathew Ingram noted these and other examples (Google starting to charge for high-volume use of Google Maps) as evidence that 'open APIs' published by a single vendor can't be trusted by outside developers. Worried about the possibility that Yahoo! might do the same with Flickr, Dave Winer has just launched a petition to Obama asking the President to declare the Flickr API a National Historic Landmark, thus (by Dave's reckoning) legally protected from arbitrary withdrawal or wholesale changes by its corporate masters."

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101 comments

IS IT EVER !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42306865)

Wow !! Love it to death !! Wish it would DIE !!

No it is not (5, Insightful)

js3 (319268) | about a year ago | (#42306881)

If we learned anything, software dies. Twitter, Facebook, Flicker and whatever flavor of the times websites eventually be forgotten like MySpace, Geocities, AOL and Yahoo

Re:No it is not (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42307039)

If we learned anything, software dies.

So does legislation. A law, executive order, Presidential decree, Act of Congress or even Blessing by the Pope is rescinded or overturned when it serves their purposes. Getting government involved in this type of thing is as meaningless as getting them involved in most everything else.

Re:No it is not (2)

ricky-road-flats (770129) | about a year ago | (#42307049)

I disagree. Maybe those you named failed because they didn't achieve critical mass. I would argue that Facebook and Twitter have done that, which makes it much harder for them to fade. Not impossible, but much harder. Flickr - maybe, maybe not. Picasa online was a decent contender before it got mashed into Google+...

Re:No it is not (2)

rockout (1039072) | about a year ago | (#42307571)

Facebook, maybe. Twitter? They just got passed by Instagram, of all things, in active daily users. I'm not saying Instagram has reached critical mass, either - if I was forced to bet, I'd lay money that Twitter and Instagram will both fade just as MySpace did. Facebook, much as I hate it, may have a decent chance of continuing on with no end in sight.

Re:No it is not (5, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | about a year ago | (#42308267)

Critical mass? There was a time when most people on the internet used AOL. There was a time when most web pages were geocities pages.

Everything fades eventually. Facebook, twitter, Ozimandius, whatever.

Re:No it is not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42311899)

Has flickr even gotten to the point of being popular yet?

Re:No it is not (2)

ricky-road-flats (770129) | about a year ago | (#42312573)

I didn't make my point clearly. AOL was popular (certainly not "most people" in the Internet, even back then), but importantly in terms of total numbers relative to the world population, it never made so much as a blip. And as for GeoCities, same applies even more so. Facebook also, unlike all the others, has a really powerful thing in its favour - many people (including me) use it as a way of keeping in very occasional touch with others - at a glance I can contact them, see what they've been up to recently, and let them know news about me.

Re:No it is not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42313397)

And you think that will prevent facebook from going the way of EVERYTHING before it? Hahahahaha that's pretty good.

Re:No it is not (1)

ricky-road-flats (770129) | about a year ago | (#42313407)

Read what I said in GP. I didn't say it wouldn't go away, and I didn't say it couldn't. I said that it's harder for it to go away because it has critical mass. There are several ways it could go away - the management might fuck it up and scare people away (AltaVista). Something better might come along - but it will have to be a LOT better and get a huge user-base REALLY quickly, or it just won't succeed (look at Google+). Or the things it does might be done by something higher up the stack - iOS, Android etc.

Re:No it is not (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about a year ago | (#42307051)

Yes, but we're talking about the API, not the software. There are hundreds of formerly-useful websites out there that ran on a now-withdrawn API. I always used to love using "GoogleFight" to compare the relative frequency of two phrases, but the old API is gone, even though Google is still going, (and other Google APIs are still in operation) and GoogleFight no longer does anything. For a quick reference as a language learner, comparing Google figures was invaluable.

Re:No it is not (4, Insightful)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | about a year ago | (#42307095)

If we learned anything, software dies. Twitter, Facebook, Flicker and whatever flavor of the times websites eventually be forgotten like MySpace, Geocities, AOL and Yahoo

Google is a prime example of trying out fancy things (even buying companies with awesome ideas), and being very happy to let them die, abandoning users. That would all be fine, if another company could pick things up, but software patents in the US are stupid.

Re:No it is not (2)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about a year ago | (#42308575)

If we learned anything, software dies. Twitter, Facebook, Flicker and whatever flavor of the times websites eventually be forgotten like MySpace, Geocities, AOL and Yahoo

Flickr is the "it" thing for amateur photography right now so it's interesting. I do amateur photography. I don't think I'm very good, but as I've talked to other amateurs over the years at camera shops etc, they ALWAYS end up having a flickr. It's to the point where you wouldn't ask someone if they use flickr, but just what their name is on flickr because the safe assumption is that they do use it. It will probably be around for a while because they have a pay upgrade that many people use (I do) which I'm guessing earns actual profits. It's common enough to see the pro logo on random flickr users accounts..
Geocieies is gone, but a lot of people still cling to aol and yahoo for some of their products like instant messaging. In my group of friends we have to use aggregrators like digsby or trillian but more people use AOL instant messenger in the group of people I know than any other IM tool.

I think that unless yahoo goes belly up, flickr will be around for a while.

I'm saying I don't think it's a fore-drawn conclusion that flickr will up and die - at least not until something FAR better comes along and it dies because of disuse. If that scenario plays out, I'll be happy to see flickr go because something better would be... better!

Re:No it is not (3, Interesting)

Omestes (471991) | about a year ago | (#42309079)

I don't know, it seems Google+ is slowly replacing it, a lot of my photography friends have either ditched Flickr, or haven't touched it in months now. There are also better services out there, like Smugmug (also might be suffering a bit), and 500px. Yahoo has pretty much forgotten about Flickr, and they really don't garner much confidence. When was the last time Yahoo really saved, or improved, something? Hell, when was the last time anything of relevance was connected to Yahoo?

I used to use Flickr a lot, my hobby was colorizing and restoring old images, and I managed to find some good communities there full of people with like interests, and more experience, willing to help me and critique my work. Lately, since venturing into macro photography, I was looking for a like experience. Flickr didn't really fit, it seemed more Instagram-y now, Facebook-y even. Lots of "Wow!", and "Great Job!", and very little "Good, but your framing is a bit off", "Good framing, but you need more/less light/exposure" Useful, and meaningful criticism, not just empty social blurbs and group ego massaging. Flickr feels like a dying community, not like it was a few years back.

The serious people, who want a good UI, and better templates have moved on to 500px. The people who want community first, and a good UI and display, have move to G+. The casual crowd has moved on to Facebook. Why niche does Flickr fill, that these other sites can do better?

Re:No it is not (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about a year ago | (#42320439)

The serious people, who want a good UI, and better templates have moved on to 500px. The people who want community first, and a good UI and display, have move to G+. The casual crowd has moved on to Facebook. Why niche does Flickr fill, that these other sites can do better?

Google+ didn't really do anything for me, but I hadn't heard of 500px. I'll give it a gander, thanks!

I think the quality of comments you garner will depends on the groups you join and post to. There's certainly no shortage of groups that give lame "awards".

Re:No it is not (1)

Omestes (471991) | about a year ago | (#42322333)

I suck at social networking, so I'm having a pretty hard time with G+, Flickr at least had baked in groups, that were rather easy to find. 500px is wonderful if you want to make a portfolio, or go "pro", but is somewhat odd when it comes to social features. I also found a bit of snobby elitism there, which didn't really mesh with my amateur, enthusiast, streak. I'm never going to make money with my hobby, nor do I really want to, I want to be good at it for its own rewards. I'm a photo geek, not a photographer, so the community at 500px was a bit daunting to me.

Uh... (5, Insightful)

CajunArson (465943) | about a year ago | (#42306887)

Dave Winer has just launched a petition to Obama asking the President to declare the Flickr API a National Historic Landmark, thus (by Dave's reckoning) legally protected from arbitrary withdrawal or wholesale changes by its corporate masters."

Yeah nice meaningless stunt.

If the API is truly "open" then this guy can buy the servers and the network connectivity and the electricity and the hosting support needed to host the sotfware that keeps it going in perpetuity and he won't have to worry about Flickr suing him becuase it's "open".

Something tells me he is more upset that somebody else won't be paying for all of those things for his personal gain. Well guess what: When you live by the "free" service you die by the "free" service.

I hope that they preemptively shut it down. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42306907)

I would personally find it quite hilarious if Yahoo! preemptively shuts it down just to avoid any headaches caused by this nonsense.

Re:Uh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42307101)

Amen brother. Devs trying to market products on the backs of "open" systems are going to get what they deserve. It can't be considered stealing, but they haven't signed a contract securing the use of the services so they can't complain when they go away.

In fact, I'd be willing to bet that that terms of use for the site (that they've agreed to, right?) explicitly state that the services can be withdrawn at any time without notice.

Re:Uh... (0)

hjf (703092) | about a year ago | (#42307169)

Why does it always come down to the "it's free, deal with it" attitude? As if paid services never get shut down...

Re:Uh... (1)

lennier (44736) | about a year ago | (#42308765)

Why does it always come down to the "it's free, deal with it" attitude? As if paid services never get shut down...

Right. It's not "it's free, deal with it". Try "it's the Cloud, deal with it".

The Cloud will always die. The Cloud will always eat your data. The Cloud will always steal your privacy. The Cloud will always skimp on safety, reliability and security, expose you to risk, and charge the highest prices it can get away with - because that's how it's designed to work. It's not working for you. It's working to make money for the investors. Their aim is not your happiness, it's your data and money.

Don't trust your data to stay secure and reliable in a cloud service any more than you'd trust water to not run downhill after you pour it out of a bottle. It's simply not in its nature to be the things you want it to be. Treat every Cloud - free or paid - as a temporary, public, publishing service for stuff you don't care about at all, and you'll be fine.

If you really care about secrecy and reliability, keep your data inhouse where YOU have the incentive to do those things.

Re:Uh... (1)

jonbryce (703250) | about a year ago | (#42307819)

He can do that, but what he can't do is buy the twitter.com or whatever domain that all these services are hardwired to talk to.

Re:Uh... (1)

stephanruby (542433) | about a year ago | (#42309477)

...has just launched a petition to Obama asking the President to declare the Flickr API a National Historic Landmark, thus (by Dave's reckoning) legally protected from arbitrary withdrawal or wholesale changes by its corporate masters."

The White House needs some better spam/troll detectors.

Starting fake petitions, so you can brag about it, may have been funny for the first guy who did it, but no one likes a copy cat. This Dave Spamer guy really needs to come up with something better.

Re:Uh... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about a year ago | (#42312191)

If the API is truly "open"

Open is a nonsense word when it comes to APIs. An API is just an interface, and in the USA it can't be copyrighted, so anyone can implement any API. It only really makes sense when talking about APIs like OpenGL or POSIX, which are maintained by a consortium and so can't be arbitrarily modified by a single vendor, but describing a single-vendor API as open is pure gibberish.

Re:Uh... (1)

jareth-0205 (525594) | about a year ago | (#42313209)

Something tells me he is more upset that somebody else won't be paying for all of those things for his personal gain. Well guess what: When you live by the "free" service you die by the "free" service.

More than that, he's a hypocrite. If you reply to his post he gets very uppity if you're not super-polite, and there's not really any debate allowed. If you don't agree with him he will delete your comment. (as happened to me)

His argument being: "You're a guest here, play by my rules". Fine, but guess what, Flickr, and all sites, have a similar policy.

National treasure?! (1)

wmbetts (1306001) | about a year ago | (#42306889)

I can understand his frustration, but national treasure? That's a little ridicules.

Re:National treasure?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42307013)

I can understand his frustration, but national treasure? That's a little ridicules.

Clearly you haven't taken a look at applications at the USPTO, as that realm goes all the way to full-blown fucking idiotic.

Re:National treasure?! (2)

thereitis (2355426) | about a year ago | (#42307097)

The pictures and picture metadata are the most important bit. Imagine an API without any pictures behind it - hardly a national treasure.

I do think it's a good idea to make some effort to preserve the pictures, though, for historical reasons.

I can relate. (5, Funny)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about a year ago | (#42306891)

My mates and I are lobbying to have the neighborhood Pizza Hut declared a national landmark, so we can always eat there for free.

Re:I can relate. (4, Funny)

garcia (6573) | about a year ago | (#42306963)

Someone should start a petition to have the US Government force Pizza Hut into paying Americans to eat there because paying for that shit is criminal.

Re:I can relate. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42307139)

I'm lobbying to have my dick declared a national landmark. Then all the women will WANT a picture of it.

Re:I can relate. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42307387)

entrance fees for visiting your pizza hut national landmark would cost MORE than the $15-20 you'd spend on a pizza and a couple sodas.

open api is not the same as open source software (3, Informative)

mrvan (973822) | about a year ago | (#42306917)

'open APIs' published by a single vendor can't be trusted by outside developers

No shit, sherlock!

You mean that companies that offer free (or non-free) stuff can and will stop doing so when their own interest points in another direction?

I think google et al are great for writing software that allows other people to interoperate in an easy way ... but that does not put a burden on them to continue supporting it after it is no longer in their best interest. We could define "open API" to mean that the server side software is implementable by a third party (like IMAP and even SMB are), but probably their APIs are so useful because they plug into a core product that they're not willing to open source and is extremely difficult to replicate (cf. iOS maps).

If your business depends on google doing or not doing something, then you are either taking a big risk (and entrepreneurship is about taking risks, so that's not necessarily a bad idea) or you should have a contract with google that they will do as needed for your business to succeed. If you take a big risk as a company and fail, well that's what bankruptcy protection is for ;-).

Obama (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42306925)

Worried about the possibility that Yahoo! might do the same with Flickr, Dave Winer has just launched a petition to Obama asking the President to declare the Flickr API a National Historic Landmark, thus (by Dave's reckoning) legally protected from arbitrary withdrawal or wholesale changes by its corporate masters."

I'm sure he'll get right on that after he finishes up with the: "Fiscal Cliff", shit in Middle East, Appointment of a new Secretary of State, Budget negotiations next year, ....,.... family issues, ... playing with his dog, shooting some hoops, ...,...,..., the recreational root canal, ..., ... , Flickr API.

Re:Obama (2)

sumdumass (711423) | about a year ago | (#42306955)

ehh.. the way the government works in this day and age, we will likely see something happening with it before any of that gets addressed in any meaningful ways.

Re:Obama (2)

game kid (805301) | about a year ago | (#42306977)

Yeah, this falls right into the "Good luck with that!" pile--even if this were a serious proposal, it's already a dead one.

Flickr holder YHOO and FB are now in a "strategic alliance" [slashdot.org] , and it's very safe to say the less financially successful of the two would rather listen to their more profitable partner than...

  1. ...some random guy on the internet, or...
  2. ...a POTUS who can barely convince even wealthy companies to conform to a Federal healthcare law [cbsnews.com] , or the GOP to not try to kill it. (No, his strength is of a different and scarier kind [rt.com] , and though he has nerd blood [wikipedia.org] I don't think it's dominant enough for him to give a shit about yet another site with random user-submitted pictures.)

So expect nothing (if not less) from this.

Why did anybody think (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42306931)

that companies would act as charity and keep their business available for free?

What an incredibly stupid and evil idea. (5, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | about a year ago | (#42306935)

The last thing in the world we need is a pack of bureaucrats telling anyone how to develop their products. Maybe Dave Winer thought he was being funny, but if he's serious, he should be slapped upside the head, good and hard.

-jcr

Re:What an incredibly stupid and evil idea. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42306969)

John, you were an Apple employee, were you not? How do you reconcile your belief that it's wrong to have "a pack of bureaucrats telling anyone how to develop their products" with the way Apple treats developers who wish to submit applications to the App Store? They have managed to take the bureaucracy to a level that even government has trouble attaining!

Re:What an incredibly stupid and evil idea. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42307029)

Apple is a corporation in the business of making money. Don't like it? Then vote with your feet.

Re:What an incredibly stupid and evil idea. (3, Insightful)

dissy (172727) | about a year ago | (#42307193)

If he doesn't work there anymore, that pretty much answers your question.
You can't hold him accountable for what a company he used to work for does in the future.
Never know, that might even have been part of why he left.

Re:What an incredibly stupid and evil idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42307445)

Are you trying to be cute, or do you seriously not know the difference between quality control and government force?
There are over 700 thousand apps on the app store now, It must not be as onerous as you would have us believe.

Re:What an incredibly stupid and evil idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42310363)

Government control, private sector control. You really don't see a difference there? Don't like Apple? Don't buy their shit. Don't like what the US gov does? A little harder to leave... Don't be a tool.

Re:What an incredibly stupid and evil idea. (1)

timeOday (582209) | about a year ago | (#42307071)

It's a dumb idea and nobody likes it and it would never happen, so there's little point in 500 people taking time to say the same thing about it.

So instead, what are some better ideas to solve the same problem?

Best would be moving the Internet back towards distributed implementations of standards that are actually open.

Short of that, certain companies could consider offering choosing to guarantee a stable API to build on for a certain number of years, like the promotion, "CenturyLink High-Speed Internet. $19.95/mo. for five years." I doubt Flickr would do this because they are already the market leader, but it's something for younger, hungrier companies to consider to build market share.

Re:What an incredibly stupid and evil idea. (1)

M. Baranczak (726671) | about a year ago | (#42307613)

A "younger, hungrier" company can't make a meaningful guarantee that they'll still be around in 5 years. No, your first idea is the only real solution: open standards and distributed storage.

Re:What an incredibly stupid and evil idea. (1)

steviesteveo12 (2755637) | about a year ago | (#42315637)

Ridiculously ambitious guarantees are common from small companies in lots of industries. You'll find sole trader carpenters who'll happily slap 200 year guarantees on house repairs because why not? It sounds good and they probably won't be around for it.

FCC? (1)

Yfrwlf (998822) | about a year ago | (#42306939)

Aren't standards something the FCC is supposed to protect? Even better though an international organization should champion standards. I would suggest the ISO but after the whole OOXML fiasco they seem to be okay with declaring these same kinds of proprietary standards as standards.

Real standards need to rely on only open pieces throughout, and revisions especially if frequent should be backwards compatible. If you break compatibility, you should be creating a totally new and separate standard.

Re:FCC? (2)

bmo (77928) | about a year ago | (#42307027)

>Aren't standards something the FCC is supposed to protect?

Who? Why would they have anything to do with this?

The FCC covers the broadcast of radio waves and allocated spectrum at last look, not APIs.

--
BMO

No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42307099)

Aren't standards something the FCC is supposed to protect? Even better though an international organization should champion standards

I think the WWE [wwe.com] would be better suited to take on those duties than the organizations you've mentioned.

Re:FCC? (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | about a year ago | (#42307133)

The FCC only has jurisdiction over RF broadcasts since a governing body is needed to manage the shared spectrum. It can't do anything more without Congressional approval.

Re:FCC? (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | about a year ago | (#42308417)

The FCC has jurisdiction over pretty much all interstate communication systems. I'm not sure why you and the sibling poster thinks its limited to radio communications, that's one of its jobs, but it's been regularing wireline services (phone ,cable TV, etc) forever too.

Re:FCC? (2)

lgw (121541) | about a year ago | (#42308303)

"real standards" are whatever the biggest vendors do. A standards committee at best documents what the biggest vendors do, and at worst produces a meaningless document. Often standards are in no way open - sucks, but life often does.

You don't think folks on the standards committees share your ideals? Most do, but then there's reality, and nothing in reality is more worthless then a standard that vendors don't choose to follow.

Re:FCC? (1)

Yfrwlf (998822) | about a year ago | (#42308955)

"real standards" are whatever the biggest vendors do. A standards committee at best documents what the biggest vendors do, and at worst produces a meaningless document. Often standards are in no way open - sucks, but life often does.

You don't think folks on the standards committees share your ideals? Most do, but then there's reality, and nothing in reality is more worthless then a standard that vendors don't choose to follow.

Because everyone knows there's no way a government can have the power to protect citizens and ensure corporations don't fuck them over by ensuring interoperability. It's not like they have these things called legislatures that can make laws or anything. Besides, corporations were created to give all the wealth of a nation (and world) to one or a small group of individuals, not for the common good of society!

Re:FCC? (1)

lgw (121541) | about a year ago | (#42316423)

What one earth are you blathering on about. Some of us have actually served on international standards committees and aren't just making shit up.

Somehting simple like the length of a second or an inch? Sure, ANSI etc have a direct impact. But anything more complex? Trust me, no matter how carefully you write a standard, it will be possible for two vendors to produce devices/software such that each has a good argument that it complies with the standard, but they don't interoperate.

Ultimately, successful standards document what the big players have done, not what you might hope that some vendor might come along and one day do. Because "it works with what most people have" is the actual standard. BTW, you do realize that most technology standards are obsolete before they're official, right? And that the working draft (moving target that it is) is what engineers try to meet? And that you don't know how well you did till you get to a plugfest or somesuch?

Interesting problem (3, Interesting)

ilsaloving (1534307) | about a year ago | (#42306949)

On the one hand, yes, anyone who complains about a company that stops providing a free services is a whiner who deserves the scorn people send them.

On the other hand, there are a lot of sites that make use of all the various APIs going around. Some of which may not even be maintained anymore. If google dropped it's maps api tomorrow, a massive number of websites would break, or parts of them would break. It's the internet equivalent of the world economy. There is functionality now that other sites *can't* replicate, because it's not worth doing so on the scale of an individual website. But I have yet to see a single one of these APIs that could be considered essential. The web worked just fine before all these APIs appeared.

People will have to learn that these services are not actually free, and start paying for the privilege of using them, or they should learn to do without.

Re:Interesting problem (2)

c0d3g33k (102699) | about a year ago | (#42307377)

On the one hand, yes, anyone who complains about a company that stops providing a free service is a Winer who deserves the scorn people send them.

There, fixed that for ya. :-)

Re:Interesting problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42307475)

People will have to learn that these services are not actually free, and start paying for the privilege of using them, or they should learn to do without.

How would you actually pay for the privilege of using them, if the service depends on an API that is going to be closed, and the company who provided the API isn't interested in offering the service even for a payment?

If you could just pay to get service, everything would be very easy. But usually you don't get service even if you would pay for it, because of big monopolistic systems that cut little branches from the main business away when they please. For example, many movies or music tracks just are not legally available in some countries.

Re:Interesting problem (1)

ilsaloving (1534307) | about a year ago | (#42307653)

That is an excellent point, to which I don't think there is an easy answer. Collectively negotiating with the company in question, maybe? Or don't provide functionality that depends on tight coupling with a specific vendor.

Maintenance isn't free (2)

Pirate_Pettit (1531797) | about a year ago | (#42306993)

So, because it's a service that others find useful, the company should be responsible for maintaining it, for free, in perpetuity?

Should be private effort: APIStarter (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | about a year ago | (#42307005)

The problem is that one individual or one company doesn't have enough bargaining power to keep an API available. Collectively, many individuals and businesses would have bargaining power. Pre-Internet, government was a practical way to collectivize action. These days, it's no longer necessary, with things like the ransom model [wikipedia.org] used to release Blender 3D a decade ago and Kickstarter now.

Where does this "Dave Winer" live? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42307011)

Betcha it's one of those two states that just legalized marijuana. That could be the only possible explanation.

openstreetmap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42307041)

Or, you could switch to something that tries to be open in the first place, such as openstreetmap.
Sadly, it's hard to make something like that very good without a company willing to put extra money in it.

I'm a bit surprised about Google though : they make money through advertisements. The more people use it, the more money comes in.
Here's an idea : add advertisements related to the places you are looking at in google maps.
I wouldn't mind getting ads of restaurants when I'm looking at the place I want to go on vacation.

It's not a national treasure (2)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about a year ago | (#42307043)

Seriously, does he think the government will prop up Yahoo, should things get worse, to protect the Flickr api? This is the problem when you can't build your own websites or choose not to and rely on other people. They aren't charities. They will eventually charge you or remove the service. That is just how it is always going to work so long as you rely on businesses for "free" things.

No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42307053)

No, it's not.

Do you have any other asinine questions that I can answer for you?

Reform Copyright for Software (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42307075)

Since source code can be copyrighted, and the algorithms patented, make the life of said rights limited to 5 years unless renewed.

Right now a patent is 25 years and a copyright is almost immortal (and dare I say immoral). Sure carve out exceptions for that fucking rat in FL.... but software should be much more limited.

Socialism is Good! (1, Funny)

EmagGeek (574360) | about a year ago | (#42307085)

What an awesome idea! Why don't we use the same method to prevent gas prices going up - just declare all oil companies property of the Federal Government!

We can do this with EVERYTHING! Shit!

Free pot for everyone!

Re:Socialism is Good! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42307375)

That would be communism, not socialism. Good try though.

Impractical, but... (2)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#42307127)

It's unreasonable to lay a burden on a private company that it must or even should continue to support any piece of privately developed and useful software.

The obvious solution is not just open APIs but fully open source software. This ensures that whoever finds the software useful can maintain a workable version as long as they need or want to use it. However, businesses are reluctant to do this because you don't want to give away your ability to do business to competing services. This means that even if you open-source parts of your business's code, you may want that code to pass information along to proprietary software for services that are important to your business but not to the generic-use aspects of it.

For a service like Flickr, there could be an open-source program for uploading, viewing and downloading pictures, but you might use proprietary and commercial software to manage such functions as controlling which other users and accounts can see your pictures, editing them online, managing commercial accounts, etc.

In general, I think industry would benefit greatly if companies would release superceded versions and obsolete and no-longer-marketed software as open source under free-to-use-and-modify-as-you-wish terms. There's no need to lock up old code that you're no longer interested in selling.

Would Be Considered a Taking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42307149)

Such a move, if even legal, would be considered a taking and the government would have to compensate Yahoo. Highly doubtful and a meaningless, stupid stunt.

Obama is the greatest President ever but.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42307155)

..with the recent events he has to get to work on totally banning guns from the general public. Time for the constitution to go bye bye!

Dave should own it (5, Insightful)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | about a year ago | (#42307203)

There is a solution for Dave's dilemma. He should start a rival service to flickr (i.e. pay for it) and then personally guarantee to keep it and its API running for free forever. Go ahead Dave! What is stopping you?

Re:Dave should own it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42307919)

He was involved with the rss spec, have you read it? It's shit.

Please don't let him touch an API.

Re:Dave should own it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42310469)

This. Everything Dave touches is shit. Why he is doing this strange stunt over the Flickr API is beyond me, the guy is a hack.

Solution isn't an alternative, its a standard API (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42326505)

Why doesn't w3 or someone have a serious effort going to create standardized web service APIs?

Open and personnal (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#42307493)

What we need are open protocols that allow anyone to run a personal server of their own (at home or shared hosting or whatever - it's your choice).

Unfortunately it seems the social networking generation is more than happy to let Facebook, Twitter and Flickr control access to their own content.

Re:Open and personnal (1)

cybernanga (921667) | about a year ago | (#42308181)

It is already really easy to setup your own personal server, and share your photo's and whatever else. This works fine if you want to share with a specific and limited set of people. If you want to share with the "world", which many people do, then the world needs to be able to find you, and that's where the problem lies.

What the services like Facebook and Twitter "really" provide, is a managed way for others to find what you are sharing, and unfortunately, I don't think that will be possible to replicate effectively, without one of these centralised services.

Re:Open and personnal (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#42308595)

But imagine if the open-source variant allowed everyone to run a server but the API also makes it possible to talk to other servers. Sort of a decentralized Facebook/Twitter/etc. If you add someone on your list, you get the URL for their account+server. Some would still use a third-party servers but others would run their own.

APIs don't Qualify to be Historic Landmarks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42308125)

So, I've worked a little bit in historic preservation, and know some of the basics regarding the law.

An API wouldn't qualify to be an historic landmark, because the statute specifically requires a landmark to be a building, site, structure, object, or district. In this case, buildings are are functional objects built primarily to shelter human activity, structures are functional objects built for some other reason than a building, objects are either too small to be considered a building (e.g. a fencepost) or not built for function (e.g. a sculpture), sites are locations of historical significance, and districts are groups of multiples buildings, sites, structures, or objects (see http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/publications/bulletins/nrb15/nrb15.pdf). So, not being a tangible object, an API can't be an historic landmark without a major change to the law (and good luck with that).

Even assuming you had the law changed so intangible objects could be national historic landmarks, it would still probably fail the test to be a national historic landmark. To be an NHL, something must meet one of six criteria: be associated with a person nationally significant to US history (Flickr's API fails); be associated with events that have made a significant contribution to, and are identified with, or that outstandingly represent, the broad national patterns of United States history and from which an understanding and appreciation of those patterns may be gained (Flickr's cool, but hasn't really made a significant contribution to US history); represent some great idea or ideal of the American people (this one is explicitly said by the National Park Service to only apply in rare instances, and the ideas they talk about are things like attaining democracy, achieving freedom, and securing fundamental rights, not being a really cool way to share pictures); distinguish an architectural type specimen exceptionally valuable for a study (they mean physical architecture, not computer architecture, so Flickr fails this one); be composed of objects not individually important enough to be a historic landmark but together having the importance to be one (Flickr's API would be a single object, so it prima facie fails here); or (summarizing here) being archeologically important (Flickr isn't). (http://www.nps.gov/history/nhl/tutorial/hotlinks.htm#natsig)

All that being said, Dave Winer seems to fundamentally misunderstand what being a national historic landmark means. It doesn't mean you're open to the public, it just means you can't (without great difficulty) change it. So, as long as Yahoo didn't change Flickr's API, they could legally shut off public access to it. Which would probably suit Yahoo just fine.

Re:APIs don't Qualify to be Historic Landmarks (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year ago | (#42308397)

Easy, reclassify "cyber space" to be equivalent to real space.

It will have the added benefit of being able to jail terrorists for bombing cyber space.

Who comes up with these ideas (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year ago | (#42308385)

This is fucking ridiculous.

Although it would be funny if this was done. Yahoo! could then wait for the uptake and start charging "maintenance costs" for it.

Either way, if it ever did happen Yahoo or its future owners would end up with tax payer money to safe guard the national treasure. It'd be funded by the tax payers, it would be almost impossible to change it anyway, so would never be enhanced.

Sounds like a lwin-lose situation. Yahoo wins, users and citizens of the United States of America lose.

Is the API worthy of open source? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42308605)

I find one of the biggest problems of an open source project, is to come up with a good, precise API, and interface. If the Flickr API is THAT good, it is time to start work on an open source version of it, since we know exactly what its APIs and interface should be. If the Flickr API is not that good, as I suspect it is not, then this guy is just wasting our time.

I get it, but no (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#42309095)

I can understand the motivation. Flickr is yet another massive trove of user content from all over, much of it banal but with quite a few gems as well that could disappear on a corporate whim. It's not really a great state of affairs for human culture. It's only natuiral that people want to see it preserved somehow.

Meanwhile, there is a growing ecosystem that depends on the API. We wouldn't want to swee all of that just suddenly stop working one day either.

All of that said, Declaring the API itself a national treasure seems outlandish and declaring the archive so seems unlikely to actually work. We can't make them maintain the archive and keep paying the bandwidth bill if they decide they want to stop.

So what we REALLY need is a way to build up such collections in a way that they don't live or die at the whim of a single entity.

Re:I get it, but no (1)

gnapster (1401889) | about a year ago | (#42310217)

Meanwhile, there is a growing ecosystem that depends on the API. We wouldn't want to swee all of that just suddenly stop working one day either.

This makes me think we're dealing with the inverse situation to that of the Riemann Hypothesis [wikipedia.org] in mathematics: There is currently an ecosystem of math results that are currently tenuous because they rely on this huge unproven conjecture. One day, it will be proved or disproved, and all the dependent results will either be vindicated or swept away.

Wow. Obamasoftware now? (1)

gelfling (6534) | about a year ago | (#42309825)

Now when companies can't compete and can't sue one another to prosperity they demand the government step in and exercise fascism.

Awesome. I hope all the executives of this company die in a fire.

No it isn't, but... (1)

istartedi (132515) | about a year ago | (#42311813)

No it isn't, but like many things that have transpired on the WWW, it could have been implemented as an RFC. If it had been, it would be not only a national treasure but an international treasure like the IP protocols, TCP, and any number of other protocols with free specifications that we are free to implement, without the encumberance of patents, copyrights, or trademarks.

If we as a country really feel that much about all this we could purchase a license to the API and have the Library of Congress host the entire FlickR, archive. We'd have to compenstate Yahoo fairly. It's an interesting idea. Sorry though, we spent it all on wars that corporations wanted because selling weapons is profitable. We spent it on drugs that should cost much less, but pharma companies manipulated the FDA so that drugs formerly compounded by pharmacies would now cost 100 times what they once did. Sorry America. Sorry world. We're all tapped out.

"Historic"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42313159)

If something is younger than your dog, it's not historic.

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