Photo sharing and baby blogs… the conundrum

Every since Ashton was born, I’ve been trying to find the best way to share photos with friends and family, as well as keep record of important milestones, events, etc. The latter was due to my dislike of every print baby-book I found. Too cutesy-gaggy!

For most of Ashton’s life, we’ve resolved the photo challenge by using Kodak gallery. This was chosen not for it’s outstanding features, but rather that it offered photo streams to wireless Kodak digital picture frames. We purchased such frames for the Grandmas and for a time, it was a great way to keep them updated with the latest photos. The problem is that Kodak charges the user to get copies of the photos, and I wanted them to be able to print any photo they liked. And then there were the technical difficulties mainly due to wireless connectivity issues. I also didn’t like that Kodak required a login to the site and implemented a flashy slideshow interface that was super slow.  I think this discouraged other interested persons from viewing the photos. Not to mention that posting the photos was super slow. Fortunately, I found a Firefox plugin that made this somewhat easier.

Then there is the Facebook issue. Most of my friends/family want photos via this venue. Up until very recently, Kodak did not have an app for Facebook, so I had to post photos in two places. I gave up on this rather quickly, as Facebook’s photo interface is also quite clunky. I’ve had to make an exception for Brennan photos, as everything else was in a state of migration during his first month.

The third photo issue has to do with copyright. When you post photos to a free site like Kodak or Flickr, you transfer copyright of your photos to them via the legal agreement you have to click okay to when signing up. Though it isn’t likely to happen, these companies could use my photos without my authorization for whatever purpose they see fit. Neither Daniel nor I are comfortable with this. I imagine that Facebook has the same issue.

So, to address all these issues, we are hosting our own photo sharing site via open-source software (Gallery) installed on my web hosting account. http://www.slorien.com/gallery No login is required, we retain the copyright, and any photo can be saved in full-resolution (and printed), by simply right-clicking on it. It was very easy to install and fairly easy to configure. I still have to move over quite a few more photos though. Over time, I hope to customize the theme to give it our own look. I’m also experimenting with plugins that would give it an RSS feed, with the goal of feeding it into Facebook. I can’t imagine that they hold the copyright on content imported into Facebook this way, however I haven’t actually checked into this yet.

As for the baby-book/blog issue … I started out using a site called Kidmondo. It is designed as an online baby-book. For the first few months it was ideal, as I didn’t have time to setup anything of my own. I didn’t like that it required a login as well, though I appreciate the attempts to secure your baby’s information. I just know that people tend to forget usernames and passwords all too easily (and especially with sites they only check into so often). My other concern was that Kidmondo was a startup and offering their service for free (with no ads). What would happen to my baby-book if they went under (a likely possibility considering no forseeable revenue)? NOTE – I just realized the other day, that I still have Ashton’s first two-months of entries to transfer over. Yikes!

So, after I caught my breath, I setup a WordPress blog on my server at home. This has worked well for a long time, however I’ve become paranoid about losing the blog as well due to my lack of diligence about backups and the increasing age of my server.

As a result, I’ve moved the blog to my web hosting account at Go-Daddy. With so many paying customers, I’m certain their server farm is more reliable than mine and updated more frequently. I’ve made use of a domain name that I bought a year ago on a whim (geekmom.me) and decided to turn the site into a personal blog as well as baby-blog. WordPress migrated fairly easily using the import tool, although the photos still link to the old blog site. This will have to be edited in time.

Then of course there is the big issue. What will happen to this online content over time? Technology changes so fast, that I anticipate that the current format of my photos and blogs will not be accessible in ten years. Fortunately I am married to a storage systems expert, so if I keep backups, I’m sure my data will be recoverable much longer than it would be for the average person. Still, print format is the only thing that stands the test of time. And judging by the state of my great-grandmother’s scrapbook, even that lifespan is pretty limited. Still, I am dedicated to preparing traditional scrapbooks for my children as well as getting print-outs of their blogs, so that they’ll at least have a record long enough to show their kids and grandkids.

I don’t even want to think about how all this online information will effect this current generation, where privacy is becoming obsolete. It gives me a headache…

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