How photo sharing won the web

Twenty years ago this past summer, something truly transformative happened.

The very first digital photo was uploaded to the Internet.

Photo by Silvano de Gennaro

In 1992, while at CERN, the European center for scientific research, Tim Berners Lee was working on a new version of his World Wide Web that supported the upload and display of photos. He needed a sample image to test his new network.

He asked around the office and ultimately landed on a promo shot for the “Cernettes”, a musical group featuring the wives and assistants of CERN scientists, that had been mocked up on an early version of Photoshop by a fellow scientist.

He asked that scientist, Silvano de Genarro, to FTP the photo up to CERN’s server.

In that instant, like Niépce’s View from the Window at Le Gras before it, Les Horribles Cernettes became part of photographic history.

Fast forward two decades, and photo sharing is absolutely crushing it on Berners Lee’s web.

In December of last year, Twitter users shared 58.4 million photos. Through August of this year, Comscore reported that Instagram usage topped 7.3 million daily active users.

And Facebook is the largest photo album in the world now.

Photo sharing is a big deal, and is accelerating. High-speed mobile networks and smartphones with high-resolution cameras all mean we’ve been moving to a world in which nearly everything is instantly shareable and viewable by others.

Seems crazy to me, then, that in real estate our approach to putting photos on the web hasn’t changed much since the Cernettes were still belting out their hit song “Collider”.

MLS photos are still hamstrung by their tiny display resolution requirements. And most real estate software still requires cameras, cords and cards that increasingly look antiquated and unfriendly.

This has to change.

Real estate is an inherent visual playground. It’s chock full of homes, communities and lifestyles that can be best presented through the photographic medium.

So how can we make it easier for real estate agents and brokers to do share what they see and what they know? How can we reduce the friction that exists right now between the point when you snap a picture and the moment when the right people, in the right context, view it?

We think we have part of the solution to this question and have a major update to our Nudge app cued up to tackle this.

Stay tuned.


If it’s real estate software, it’s in the 1000watt Index. Check it out.

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