It seems like a community is breaking up – for me this is more of an issue than the censorship that caused it.
Some of my friends have moved here, some may be just dipping a toe, others look to have moved permanently. It seems too soon, flickr have still to reveal the outcome of their behind-the-scenes negotiations.
Clearly whatever action flickr takes will be motivated by commercial sense rather than principle, that should always have been clear. However trendy and street-styled the flickr interface there has always been big business behind the 'Whoa' messages, so a lack of genuine principle in no way leaves me disillusioned – rather I'm just surprised at such a slick operation making this blunder in an age where companies prosper by trumpeting social responsibility and all sorts of non-profit-generating-multicultural greenness.
The US has an appalling image of false morality and deplorable disregard for other cultures – but this is not news. flickr's lack of principle seems the norm for American big business. This episode reveals for everyone flickr as an ugly commercial organisation rather than the community image it sought to portray – but for me this has not been a revelation, I always separated the community feeling I shared with my contacts and the community-styled presentation of the website. And I've always been taken aback by 'I love flickr' style images (and I have to say even more so by the fanaticism found on Vimeo).
The record of American business didn't dissuade me from subscribing to flickr so this latest lack of principle may not be the reason for leaving – I am assuming the behind-the-scenes negotiations will produce an outcome that means no censorship in real terms so that the only permanent casualty is the ‘cool’ image marketed by flickr.
I'm cynical enough to question if there is any site which could be considered ethical. I don't know, maybe the most that we can expect is to have a genuine community on a site that only pretends to care?
For me personally there is an aspect to this which is almost surreal. My German friend Senta and I have always joked and despaired at the British repressed and puerile attitude to sex compared to Germany and the rest of western Europe, and now of all places it is Germany where adult content is being censored.
This whole thing is so fast-paced and disorienting I don’t know what to think, but I’m thinking about it…