Project 365: Confessions of a Praise Junkie

by DaniGirl on April 3, 2009 · 7 comments

in Photo of the Day

I’ve been thinking this week about how much my Project 365 experience has mirrored my blogging experience, at least in the early days. In both cases, I started out on a whim with no plan except to satisfy a creative urge. And in both cases, I got totally sucked in by the comments and feedback, and the gravitational pull of that praise pulled me completely out of my own orbit. Both have been extremely satisfying, but my own insatiable need for external validation has completely hijacked any sense of doing the thing simply for its own merit.

Until I started up the 365, I was only marginally aware of Flickr’s “Interestingness” feature. The idea is that through a secretive algorithm that encompasses number of times a photo is viewed, number of comments, groups to which the photo belongs, and number of times someone selects the photo as a favourite, Flickr assigns an “interestingness” value. Thanks to a third-party hack, I’ve made up a little set of my 20 most “interesting” photos at any given time — it changes daily.

Flickr also chooses the 500 most “interesting” photos each day and puts them in its own showcase, called “Explore“. I get a lot of inspiration and ideas just from paging through some of the great pictures on Explore, but it never would have occured to me that some day one of my pictures might make it up there. My main 365 group on Flickr seems to have extraordinary success in having their photos “explored” though — more than 100 of them in March alone.

Suddenly, I began to think that maybe I could get one of my photos in Explore, too. I started looking at the factors that go into the algorithm and thinking, hey, I’m pretty close on some of these. And then, I found myself disappointed when people weren’t commenting or favouriting my photos because I wanted that spot in Explore so badly. (Because that, too, is a feature of my personality — the pattern that goes oblivion -> awareness -> desire -> obsession.)

And then this week I realized that I was actually causing myself no small amount of anxiety in my covetousness of this arcane little bit of recognition and I gave my head a shake and said, “Why are you doing this project? Are you doing this to express your creativity and improve your skills, or are you doing this for some sort of esoteric bragging rights?” I don’t know why I let myself get my knickers in a twist over something like this in the first place, but it was a huge relief to absolve myself of the need for that particular bit of praise and get back to taking pictures because they were interesting, instead of Interesting. Or just, you know, pretty.

(The big irony is that Flickr must be well aware of how deeply some of us desire that spot on Explore, because on April 1st all of my photos were deemed worthy of Explore! April Fools or not, I was happy to grab a souvenir poster that marks membership into this exclusive club.)

Ahem, anyway, here are this week’s pictures. All of them have captions on Flickr, if you’re curious as to the story behind the photo. None of them have been Explored — but I like them nonetheless!

67:365 Sunrise on Mooney's Bay
67:365 Sunrise on Mooney’s Bay

68:365 Back in the day
68:365 Back in the day

69:365 Slinky
69:365 Slinky

70:365 Fool's Gold
70:365 Fool’s Gold*

71:365 The wonders of spring
71:365 The wonders of spring

72:365 Just dropping by
72:365 Just dropping by

73:365 Starbucks revisited
73:365 Starbucks revisited

* For a theme on ‘Fool’s Gold’. My caption said “Oh, pyrite? I thought you said pirate!” I also lamented how it’s difficult to compose a good shot when the talent keeps trying to eat the props.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Slouching Mom April 3, 2009 at 8:23 am

I like the Starbucks one! And the water droplets on the CD. Nice!

2 Amy @ Muddy Boots April 3, 2009 at 1:19 pm

“oblivion -> awareness -> desire -> obsession”

Ha! That’s awesome. I need that put on a shirt.

3 Amber April 3, 2009 at 4:56 pm

Oh, I am a total praise junkie too! Google Analytics is my nemesis, I could spend days poring over the stats and trying to come up with ways to best myself (and others). There’s something very absorbing about external validation, and it does make you forget why you even started in the first place.

I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one.

4 kate April 3, 2009 at 5:57 pm

I’m a pretty big praise junkie myself, but I usually give up trying after a while. I’ve only been explored once. But I’m a flickr introvert – I think you really have to market yourself, comment all over the place, join all kinds of groups etc. (Or at least that’s what I tell myself.) I don’t tend to join groups anymore because that’s where people go looking for photos to steal. I’m also not particularly good at tagging my pictures… (And I never put tags on pictures of my kid anymore – see reason for not joining groups.)

5 Steve_clatford April 19, 2009 at 1:13 am

Well Done! hehehe …. Honestly though, if you look at some of the pictures that do make it to explore it’s all fairly meaningless. I’ve managed 3 in explore, some people count how many they get a week (it helps to be an administrator – everyone comments), but I’ve looked through some people’s streams where the pictures were ‘above average’ but included one which was a holiday snap shot on a ferry …. of an 18 year old girl …. #57 in explore …. and yet no artistic merit at all. I’ll let you make up your own minds as to why it got comments and managed that, but the point is… It Doesn’t Mean Anything! :-). It’s nice but don’t take it too seriously. Your pictures are great as they are. 🙂

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