Niche Networking

March 2nd, 2009
Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

Teach And Learn

Here’s another thing I thought I’d invented, and discovered 3,440 people had got there before me.

But they haven’t envisaged it like I’ve envisaged it.

Social networks are all very well, but to experience true personalised hatred and lasting venom, people must share a common interest.

When fotoLibra started we organised a Forum where members could express their opinions.

And they did. So colourfully that some members of staff wanted to leave. The level of abuse was staggering. The Montagues and Capulets are as nothing compared to a Nikon owner facing off a Canon owner.

We had to cut our ties and set it adrift, and no doubt the rump of those frightening fotoLibra members now resemble the occupants of Géricault’s raft.

Ever since then I’ve been thinking there must be a more positive way to work together to improve the common lot, that lot being fotoLibra of course. We will stay successful by providing a really attractive and ever improving service to buyer and seller alike, and everybody can contribute to making it a better place to be. How do we do it?

The answer is niche networking. The idea owes a little to al Qaeda and the IRA, with their use of unconnected cells. If everyone has a say all at once, it might be a form of democracy, but no one will get heard and nothing will get done.

Here’s the plan. We already have the thread that binds us all together — photography. But photography covers so many facets. Anything can be photographed, even thoughts and emotions. And once you become at ease with your camera and good enough to sell images through fotoLibra, you will probably have settled on a dominant subject, one that you will return to again and again. It may be people, landscapes, buildings, wildlife, anything.

So we have the first set of cells, the subject categories we ask our members to place their images in when they’re uploaded. When we created fotoLibra, we wanted to build something which combined Dewey Decimal sophistication with Fisher Price simplicity. We spent a long time working out a taxonomy matrix, limiting ourselves to 256 subjects under 22 main headings. Those headings are Animals / Architecture / Arts / Design / Events / Health / Heritage / Leisure / Lifestyle / Nature / People / Plants / Science / Society / Sport / Transport / Travel / Work; and every photographable subject can be shoe-horned into one of these main headings.

If photographing buildings is your passion, we will put you in touch (with anonymity on both sides) with others who share your interest. You can teach as well as learn.

The second set of cells is the geographical location of each member photographer. If you live in Manhattan or Westminster there are going to be more fotoLibra photographers close at hand than if you live in Nullabor or Irkutsk. Therefore fotoLibra’s niche networking tool will allow you to contact the 25 fotoLibra members nearest to you. You will be anonymous to them, and you won’t know who they are, but you will be able to communicate and share common interests.

fotoLibra’s new Niche Networking tool will link people by geography or interest. We don’t know of any other specialist site that offers this facility. It has to make assumptions — that you are interested in photography, otherwise you wouldn’t be on fotoLibra — and that you want to share, learn and teach more about your particular region or specialism.

Shortly you will be able to, on fotoLibra.com.

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