Penny for your thoughts

Anil Dash writes that Flickr, because it’s generating ad impressions off of content submitted by their users, should share it’s wealth and pay it’s members. Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake replies that there’s more to life than money. I work at Yahoo which recently acquired the Flickr service so you’re excused if you think I’m one-sided on this one but I really do feel that Yahoo is trying to think this one through carefully, in a way that works for everyone. It’s a new world we’re building and traditional business models are being turned inside out. But it’s not only the corporations that need to rethink the traditional profit/loss statement as a way to measure success, it’s also all of us, the
users who interact with these services everyday, that need to rethink how we value these services that serve as great connectors and distribution platforms.

While we cannot ignore the fact that Flickr hosts your high-resolution photos and the bandwidth and storage required to serve them, I align myself most closely with the view put forth by Thomas Hawk. Here’s a guy that’s not even a professional photographer but through the use of the service he’s met other people that he wouldn’t have normally met without the distribution that Flickr provides. He even sold a print to someone for $500 based on a photo that someone spotted on his Flickr photostream.

As a new round of services sprout up around Social Media (think del.ico.us, upcoming, flock) transform themselves from interesting side projects into financially viable businesses it’s useful to keep in mind the delicate balance between time, passion, and reward that keep these communities together and growing. Participation in any community will pay dividends in unexpected ways.

I spent many an evening hand-coding my budding Tokyo Q website back in 1994 with absolutely no promise of return. Money that came in from our generous sponsor Nokia went straight out the door to our columnists and webhost leaving almost nothing for poor old webmaster me. I think over the course of a year my total compensation was somewhere around $400 which doesn’t go far in Tokyo. Yet, I’ve always
thought that the proper way to look at how Tokyo Q paid me was through the people I would have never met had I not been running the site, TQ gave me the experience to talk with confidence about running a online city guide, TQ introduced me to the web which lead to all sorts of career opportunities. Heck, Tokyo Q is still repaying the favor today as juice for this post!

I think we all have stories about “internet karma” and how a helpful post here led to a fruitful connection elsewhere. It’d be great to here from you all on how time or energy you’ve put into the internet was rewarded elsewhere. Please leave a comment if you have a story to share.

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