Techcrunchies points us to some illuminating stats from the world of new media. The bit that interests us the most is the ranking of the top photo sharing sites on the web. Leading the pack by a pretty big margin (3.8 billion photos) is Facebook – not Flickr or Photobucket, the major image repositories that one might think would be owning this market. Their standings:

1. Facebook : 10 billion photos 2. Photobucket : 6.2 billion 3. Flickr : 2 billion

Why is this happening? Perhaps it’s because people want to do more with their photos then just store and share them online. While Flickr lets users tag their photos and organize them in more than a handful of ways, the community around the photos is undefined – sometimes tight knit (members who only share their photos with their families), and other times nonexistent (those who post for the general public to see). When users upload to Facebook, they’re giving their photos a context and bringing them into their social worlds. The photos, in some sense, become units of social capital. Users post photos onto Facebook not just to share them with others, but to serve as an extension of their online identities, as an element of the narrative they want to tell about themselves to their friends and network. On Facebook, the value of a photo (even a hastily posted mobile upload) is in its ability to crystallize a moment in a user’s life to be shared, recorded and filed into the annals of his/her (and their friends) social history.

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