I read three newspapers, listen to NPR and read a bewildering variety of newsfeeds every day. I’m a complete information junkie. But I’ve just been utterly captured by a new pathway into understanding the world around us: FlickrFan.
FlickrFan is a program that takes feeds of photographs, like the Associated Press, and serves them up as an ever-changing screensaver (Mac only). Why do I think this is a way to understand the world? Reading about the news is one thing, but actually seeing it is another. I hardly ever watch television news because I find US television does such a piss poor job. The FlickrFan photo stream provides amazing image after amazing image, most of which make me think. “My God, that’s what the Gaza border turmoil looks like.” “I can’t bear to see what’s happening in the Rift Valley.” “Who’s that dead patriarch?” “Romano Prodi is looking very old these days.” If there’s an image of something I can’t figure out, I’d like to know more — and of course the Internet makes that an easy task.
I’d install FlickrFan in every middle school and high school social studies class. I guarantee it would provoke endless discussion and ensure engagement in the issues of the day.
I’m happy to confess that I’m a friend of FlickrFan’s developer, Dave Winer. But that doesn’t take away from the sheer fascination of image after image after image. I can’t tear myself away from looking at the screen across the room. I may never be able to work from home again.