Sunday, February 12, 2006

Flickr Turns 2 Party

Only Famous on the Internet
Adaptive Path's office space, San Francisco, CA

Before we get to the most well-documented party in history, we're making a stop at the Chinese New Year parade through downtown San Francisco. There are zillions of people everywhere so seeing anything more than the tops of floats and dragons is a challenge. We end up on the second floor of Borders amid a small cast of people who have been holding court here for hours.

A Chinese man is answering earnest questions from a Polish woman about the significance of the dog, the colors used in the dragons, and why Laos is represented in the parade. The rest of us are nonchalant and pretend not to listen, but really we're craning to hear so we get the story straight. A young girl with her nose against the window gives us running commentary of who in the parade dropped what, what float is coming next (McDonalds? wtf?), and what all the signs say. Meanwhile, a group of 20-somethings behind us ruminate about whether transgendered athletes would have an advantage in the Olympics. It's a very San Fran moment.

We head to SOMA for the Flickr party, stopping to talk along the way with a few people scrambling to find clues in the Chinese New Year treasure hunt. We arrive at the party, and it's pretty much what you'd expect: tech workers, digital photographers, artists, and the odd outlier who is a genuine customer of Flickr and nothing else. People wear nametags that say "On Flickr I'm..." followed by their handle. As the Flickrati (will I ever get tired of made-up words that end in ati? I think not.) greet each other, they look to the nametag first. If they recognize the handle then they have context and we're all good - "You're Other Things? I love your stuff!" If not, then they move to actual name, and then if that fails, company - "Oh Ruby Red - yeah I've heard of you guys."

We quickly venture out to find the secret back room, as there is always a secret back room at these parties. This one is called the Fungeon, and it features camouflage air mattresses, a large stuffed frog, and fabric ceilings. Eventually we gather a variety of people and while at any other party they would be making out with each other in a haze of alcohol or drug-induced happiness, here they are taking pictures of each other, experimenting with lenses, and discussing the business models of their startups.

Several people here are famous, and as we well know I cannot recognize famous people, particularly when they are only famous online. I do know the names, so I can appreciate when Stewart Butterfield and Heather Champ are pointed out, but when somone introduces me to Paul (as if Paul's name is always italicized), I don't realize until much later that it's the same Paul who wrote the Flickr Hacks book that my friend hurls himself across the crowd to grab as if it's a bouquet, spilling red wine on my doomed jacket in the process.

And then there's the picture-taking. Folks here snap photos of each other (and not just smiling photos - some get right in your face to get a picture of your eyeball), photos of the signs (one of which my friends altered from "Flickr - a Yahoo! company" to "Flickr - a Yahoo! joint"), and random shots of the message board, the raffle ticket jar, the wine glasses, and everything in between. Rock-star looking boys mingle with famed blogging girls, and everyone is happy. Within moments of the end of the party, Flickr users have posted hundreds of photos of the party in a glorious act of self-referential joy. As my friend would say, it's very.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Outlier"?? Is that a word? Sorry about the jacket. Great review, F. -- D.

9:05 AM  

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