Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Biggeidea is back on Instagram

What comes after laggards? Me.

I’m here to announce that biggeidea is back on InstagramI downloaded the app two or three years ago, used it twice, and gave up. Because clearly I’m better at anti-social media then the opposite thing.

But two weeks ago I signed up for a Social Media Strategy course. Our first assignment involves picking a platform and pimping it like hell. So I chose Instagram in order to prove to the world that I can communicate without the use of words.

I’m enjoying Instagram a lot more than I thought, despite the fact that it’s owned by evil Facebook. Having a decent smartphone helps – my old 3GS was not conducive to either good photo taking or a decent user experience. My iPhone 5 erases both of those problems.

I realize that there are already a thousand other essays about Instagram. But I did want to mention two quick things that gave me a pleasant surprise.

The first is that Instagram changed my behaviour. Not in the obvious, obsessive-compulsive manner that mobile social media tends to encourage. (Although it did that too.) I mean changing my actions IRL. I saw the plume of smoke and diverted two blocks. I’ve never done that before. The plume photo was the also the first time I tried to carefully document an urban moment. Usually I take two quick clicks and keep going. This time I shot two dozens photos, from different angles, until I got the one I wanted.

The second surprise was that I can take decent photos. I’ve reached a stage where the extent of many of my talents are clear to me. I’m not a guitar virtuoso. I can sing well enough to perform specific karaoke songs, but otherwise I don’t have an amazing voice. The list goes on. And as a word guy, I came to the conclusion that photography was best left in the hands of skilled professionals. I think that’s still true for indoor photography, where the basics of lighting seem to allude me. But outdoors, without a flash? That I can handle. Plus the filters certainly help.

What I’m still not comfortable doing is posting a bunch of adequate photos that document my day-to-day existence. I have lots of photos on my phone that serve as visual diary entries, but I consider them either mundane or private or both. I think my tendency get overly precious with my visual and written content is one of the reasons I’m not that amazing at Twitter – I don’t have the fast, fun and fluid ability to quip at the speed of the Internet (unlike say Ivor Tossell). I can make people laugh in real life, and I can craft a great line in an essay, but I tend to overthink Twitter.

My goal is to try and underthink Instagram to see if that makes me better at social media. In the meantime, this shot took five minutes to get right: