I’ve been spending the last hour with a friend batting around potential startup ideas he wants to do around photo sharing. After brutally castigating him about how every one of his alternatives seemed uncompelling, I think I finally analyzed the nub of my disagreement.

His basic thesis was that photo sharing is a compelling activity because so many people are taking so many photos these days so there must be some way to capitalize on that trend. My response is that I’m unconvinced that there actually any people in the world who enjoy the intrinsic process of taking & sharing photos. Instead, photo share is an instrumental step as a means of achieving some intrinsic goal.

I share photos of me on vacation to prove to my friends that I’m an interesting person. I share photos of something funny that occurs because I want to amuse my friends. I share artsy photographs on flickr to prove to people I’m good at taking artsy photos. In all cases, photos are just the shortest and most efficient way for me to achieve the goal I want.

I made the following analogy: It was like if you were casting around, trying to invent the next big sport and you decided that it had to involve long sticks. The reason being, you have observed that many traditional popular sports involve long sticks. This may lead you to the next great sport but it is unlikely. Instead, it is far more productive to analyze the purpose behind long sticks in sport (as a lever that allows you to accelerate objects at far higher speeds generally) and find a way to deliver on that experience, whether it involves long sticks or not.


  1. Seb Paquet says:

    October 12th, 2010 at 4:20 pm (#)

    Yeah. Basically, your friend isn’t starting from the users’ *why*.

  2. Seb Paquet says:

    October 12th, 2010 at 4:20 pm (#)

    Yeah. Basically, your friend isn’t starting from the users’ *why*.

  3. Fahd Butt says:

    October 13th, 2010 at 7:55 pm (#)

    Has he (or you) heard of Instagram? Its gained quite a bit of traction in a short amount of time. There is still space for innovation in photosharing, but I agree with you that his approach is on the superficial aspects of the activity.

  4. Hang says:

    October 13th, 2010 at 7:56 pm (#)

    I showed it to him as we were talking.

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