tecznotes

Michal Migurski's notebook, listening post, and soapbox. Subscribe to this blog. Check out the rest of my site as well.

Jul 29, 2007 11:05pm

ffffound!

A lot of the links in my snippets feed are visual, but I only post a small portion of the images I encounter. Even then, context is a bitch. All of it gets fed into my Del.icio.us account, which is Flickr-aware but not otherwise picture-friendly. So, I was really happy to find FFFFOUND! last week, thanks to Lydia for the invite.

FFFFOUND! is a website for collecting and sharing images from the web, like Flickr for other people's pictures:

FFFFOUND! is a web service that not only allows the users to post and share their favorite images found on the web, but also dynamically recommends each user's tastes and interests for an inspirational image-bookmarking experience!!

I've been using it for the past week or so, and have really been enjoying the experience. It fills a niche that my other micro-bloggy services, Twitter, Pownce, and Reblog, can't. It also has some interesting borderline social features thrown in to boot.

First, the good:

The site provides a bookmarklet for importing images. The expectation is that you casually throw interesting images over to your account as you move about the web. Activating the bookmarklet adds a heavy yellow border to all page images, so that clicking on them imports them to FFFFOUND!. The source URL is sent along as well, to maintain the connection back to the original location.

It's possible to add other people's images on FFFFOUND! as well, by clicking the "I (heart) This!" button below each site image.

Recommendations branch from each image, via a collection of related thumbnails. Browsing the site is a many-tabbed experience, and I routinely follow a thread of interesting pictures every time I visit. There's a healthy population of users here with excellent taste, most of them Japanese. Images range from Processing screen grabs, to fashion photography, to architecture, to excerpts from graphic design portfolio websites. There's a heavy emphasis on inspiration among the pictures I've browsed. There are also personal recommendations behind the "New For You!" link in the navigation. Both seem to work just like your basic Amazon "people who liked this also liked..." feature.

The site has no tags, which makes me happy. All connections and content are purely visual.

The site also has a decent respect for animated GIFs, even in thumbnail and preview form.

There are a few bits that need work.

The only way to pull new images into the site is via the bookmarklet. I've found this limiting in two cases: many excellent images live on the web in thumbnail form, with links to full-size versions invisible to FFFFOUND!. Also, I spend a lot of time on an old computer with a slow-javascript-performance browser, and I'm aggressive with turning off JS and Ajax on many sites. The bookmarklet doesn't work on Flickr and certain other sites unless I make a special point of temporarily enabling javascript. This inhibits the flow.

The site's "followers" feature informs me that I have 8 followers, but it doesn't say who they are. I assume these are people who like the same images as me and find them after I do, but I can't see their identities to understand what it is they find interesting. It also doesn't tell me whose follower I am, so I can see whose tastes I tend to share. This part may actually be a feature, keeping a focus on the pictures instead of the users.

There's no way to deny recommendations. You can either love an image, or mark it as inappropriate, but you can't politely decline. This decreases the value of the recommendations feature, making it necessary to wait for uninteresting stuff to scroll off the bottom.

The site is in private beta, and each new user gets a single invitation to pass on. Mine's already accounted for, but it sure would be nice to see a more ambitious invite policy.

They offer a screensaver built with ScreenTime, but it totally crashes my shit and generally doesn't work.

Overall, though, FFFFOUND! is a joy to use. I've been introduced to a steady stream of beautiful work, and the "followers" count is a tiny nudge of positive social feedback. I love seeing the images that inspire me framed on a gallery wall like this. The domain is just a few months old, and the site seems to be in a sweet spot of growth, with quality users posting beautiful pictures, and not a lot of noise. It's interesting joining a service where I don't know anyone (yet).

The site is cagey about its source, but the WHOIS lookup says it's a project of Yugo Nakamura, designer of the freakishly awesome Uniqlock and this ball dropping thing that's become something of a joke around the office for its frequent appearance in conversation.

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