Photosharing on Flickr: intangible heritage and emergent publics

Cristina Freeman from the School of Architecture, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia, had a paper published in the International Journal of Heritage Studies on Flickr and how some of the groups show the social relationship to architecture and in the case particularly the Sydney Opera House. It is very interesting reading. In it there is a disucssion I started on the scope of the group. I wanted to add a photo of an underground pedestrian subway in Jiu Jiang in China that was clearly based on the Opera House. In the end the group decided that the stream did not include related architecture.

What I was a bit surprised to find, though perhaps I should not have been was the amount of hostility shown towards the opera house by the people of Sydney. Here is what I saw:

  • The Opera House is quite irrelevant to the day to day lives of people in this city. It might as well not exist.
  • Becuase it is so famous, there are people who feel hostile towards it as it blocks out other things that people want to be seen.
  • From a photography point of view, it swamps out photos of other things because so many tourists come here and take photos of it. This means that photo streams can be mostly opera house and not much else. Though I think from what I have seen, this is an unfounded fear.
  • This last point also applies to photos of naked people. That is, that these photos are so popular in the general populace, they make everything else look unpopular. So to compete the other things must force them out of the photo streams. Here I am measuring popularity based on a number of views.
  • Finally I think that there is a socio-economic hostility towards the Opera House. That is becuase the Opera House represents the wealthy people of Sydney. It is their play thing and for most people the cost of going there is prohibitive.

In the end, I left a few groups, and it was pedantic things like not wanting photos of the opera house that I left them.

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