Damn and blast, I've done it again.
I subscribed to the Glass photo app, stuck it out for a short time before unsubscribing and hitting delete.
What is it about Glass that makes me want to leave after a few weeks?
Glass is a photo-sharing app, and its creators aim to build a photographic community to rival Instagram, Flickr and the other one.
One immediate downside is the app is restricted to iOS which suits me but closes the app to thousands of potential Android customers.
The app launched with fanfare and a waiting list to join. I heard about the app from another blog and signed up.
In under a week I had received my verification code and was able to sign in and create an account.
But the onboarding experience felt underwhelming and confusing.
For end users like me it's awkward to criticise an app or similar product because I would fail at trying to make a successful product.
At this point I need to praise the creators.
Designing, creating, and launching a new app into the iOS App Store and getting noticed, all without venture capital, is a significant achievement. It's cheeky for bloggers and online reviewers to critique the developers' hard work.
But the app is not for me. I tried to like it and both times I had a sense of randomness about who I engaged with and the photos I saw.
Maybe randomness is a good thing?
The Glass Photo App
The app is beautiful to look at and feels smooth, but I described the onboarding experience as disorganised chaos in my App Store review. My initial impressions were negative.
Navigating the app is easy, with a few options for the community stream, people you follow, your profile and notifications. But you can get lost.
For an app with a creator's idea dating to 2013, onboarding remains disappointing.
After setting up your profile, the app encourages you to find community members on the community tab. On the tab you'll see a constant stream of profiles, shown in an unknown order or it could be the order in which everyone signed up. What are you supposed to do?
This is algorithm-free browsing. Another plus or negative depending on your perspective.
I flicked through countless profiles, looked at some pictures and followed a few people at random.
Who are these people, will I connect with them, and will we engage?
A few people have followed me in similar circumstances. It all seems a bit new because it is new.
Glass looks like it is finding its feet, and allowing the community to find itself.
Many of the photographers I found interesting had uploaded nothing in over four weeks which means they are unlikely to reply to my comment or appreciation.
The Glass Photo Social Network
I am going to be honest.
The nub of the problem is not the app, nor other users.
I am not a social animal and find it a challenge to engage and comment on posts. Assuming you get back what you put in, you can guess why I find such apps a lonely place.
Whatever way the developers address the teething problems, there is a simple fact. Glass is another social network, and you have to ask if that's what you want?
I'm unclear what the Glass app will offer to compete with Flickr but that's where I've ended up.
Flickr continues to receive mixed reviews, tinted with the message that its glory days are over. But for me Flickr is a repository for my photographic journey.
Over time I can look to see how my photography has improved, or changed. Yes, I may follow some other photographers, but social engagement is not Flickr's driving force.
Flickr provides a photo backup service with unlimited capacity for Pro members, while Glass has a more effective, better designed app for now.
I have to ask myself why do I want to share images?
I'll write my thoughts out on that topic one day.
In the video below, I link to The Photographic Eye, one of the most endearing and genuine professionals I've come across.
In the video, Alex challenges the popular conception that the purpose of taking pictures is to share them. Alex debunks the myth and helps us think in different ways.
Alex recounts the story of Vivian Maier. I was overjoyed to see the full documentary about her on Amazon Prime. Let Alex explain.
I want to be more like Vivian Maier, in skill and outlook.
Sharing should not drive our photography.
But I wish Glass the best of success.