Testing the iPhone Hipstamtic Application

Flower and a beeOver the last week, I’ve been having some fun testing out the iPhone photographic Hipstamatic app, which the makers describe as “an application that brings back the look, feel, unpredictable beauty, and fun of plastic toy cameras from the past”.

The camera comes with three standard lenses called John S, Jimmy and Kaimal and three standard frame effects or as the app describes them “films” – Blank (a white border), 69 Ina (a beige fabric like border) and Kodot (a rough edged border on white).

Here’s a test sheet showing the different lenses and films:
Left to right – John S, Jimmy, Kaimal
Top to bottom – Ina, Blank, Kodot, Blank
A test sheet of hipstamatic photos

As you can see John S has a dark blue filter appearance, Jimmy a yellow filtered appearance and Kaimal a magenta/red filter appearance. Jimmy also comes through as the brightest – which works particularly well in the shot of the flower, on what was quite a sunny day.

One of the hardest things about the app is that, much like the toys it replicates, the image in the viewfinder bears very little resemblance to the final photograph, thus making composing a shot rather experimental. So often a good shot can take up to 6 attempts – unless you can just get lucky the first time.

There is of course a Flickr group dedicated to the app, full of examples of what’s possible. My eye also caught this discussion in the group wondering if it gave users a false sense of creativity. Of which, I’m sure such queries were raised at the introduction of the Brownie camera in 1900, and of the toy cameras that the Hisptamatic takes its inspriation.

The app enables you to send your photos straight to Flickr, although the iPhone Flickr app doesn’t enable you to post your photos to Twitter or another dedicated blog. So, I’m collating some of the best results here on Flickr but the more experimental ones are also appearing on my Twitpic page, such as this one, which believe it or not took a number of attempts to get right:

Cup of tea

Is social media a fad?

If you are looking for a summary of why social media is currently considered de rigeur look no further than this video by Socialnomics. The video aims to answer the question: “Is social media a fad?”. It neatly summarises recent statistical data (with a bias to the US) and the extent to which social media is being used across the web and web connected devices. It’s definitely worth watching and I shall be using it in my next training class to kick things off.

As Kara Swisher points out, it’s slick, but social media is “more like a financial dud so far”.

This is a viral video to promote a site (and book of the same title) regarding how social media “transforms the way we live and do business”, yet there are few references to the trickier questions of finance and business. Whilst social media services themselves are gathering huge audiences very few people have managed to make the sums add up. Watching the video new to the subject you might also presume that social media is a new phenomenon that’s sprung up in the last few years, not something older than the web itself*.

To answer the question “is social media a fad?”, it’s worth taking time to understand Gartner’s hype cycle. This is used by the company to estimate how long technologies and trends will take to reach maturity, and help organisations decide when to adopt. Their cycle has five phases:

  1. Technology trigger
  2. Peak of Inflated Expectations
  3. Trough of Disillusionment
  4. Slope of Enlightenment
  5. Plateau of Productivity

Below is the graph by Gartner for emerging technologies, taken from their latest report, courtesy of We Are Social. It shows how different elements of the social media phenomenons mentioned in the Socialnomics video are in different stages of the hype cycle.

Particularly worth noting is that e-book readers (like the Kindle) are currently at the peak of inflated expectations, whilst wikis are on the slope of enlightenment.

Source: We Are Social
Source: We Are Social

So whilst social media may be statistically more than a fad, and that certain elements are possibly coming towards the end of the hype cycle, the video glosses over that what makes media social. Media is made social not by technologies or websites but by people. As Mark Earls points out:

People not things shape fashions.

Notes
* For example, the discussion forum, Usenet, used internet technologies that pre-date the web.

UPDATE 24/08/2009: This review about the video over at ZDNet is worth a read too.