60 billion photos


General Culture, General Photography

“Facebook has a larger photo collection than any other site on the web. According to an extrapolation of photo upload data reported by Facebook, the site now houses about 60 billion photos compared to Photobucket’s 8 billion, Picasa’s 7 billion and Flickr’s 5 billion.” (source, via) (more)

This sounds like a lot of photos - and it certainly is - but if you add the fact that there are, let’s say, 500 million users, that’s an average of 120 photos per user.

I’ve been wondering for a while what these numbers really tell us, and I’m not sure. Taken as a whole, the number of photos has now reached the point where, as an archive, it’s basically unusable. How would you find anything, or even just search for something?

However, it’s not really an archive, but a huge collection of mostly relatively small archives. In that sense, it’s more like yesterday’s magazines of slides, except that all the slides are now only digital images. But just like slides they probably don’t get looked at much - just like all those digital photos on people’s hard drives are usually ignored. Unlike professional photographers, who use archiving/photo management tools, most people just have folders and folders filled with jpegs.

In a way, a large part of those 60 billion photos are just entropy. But still, the thought that one could treat everything like a real archive and “mine” it…