In my old life as a consultant, I supported operational and technical solutions for a Department of Justice High-Risk Metropolitan Areas Interoperability Assistance Project, which provided federal, state, and local public safety agencies with emergency intersystems communications in 25 areas at risk for terrorist attacks. I haven’t had the word “interoperability” pop into my head for a while (except for regarding school data and gradebook systems) until my recent ponderings about baby social media.
I’ve been pondering how to share pictures and video of Parker via different systems to various stakeholders (grandparents, immediate family, friends, acquaintances) and with different technologies (iPhone apps, Android apps, websites, printed paper books or calendars). Major considerations have been privacy, ease of use, and accessibility. I’ve been sharing via iCloud photostream to immediate family as well as via Facebook and Instagram for friends. However, none of these offer an optimal solution. Not all family members use iPhones. Some friends use Facebook and Instagram, so double posting there would be an overload for them. Some use only Facebook or only Instagram.
I love that iCloud photostream allows for multiple contributors and for immediate notifications. It saves the effort of creating a separate album somewhere and emailing it, and consolidates photos automatically (which wouldn’t occur if you texted photos individually). Two of my immediate family members are on Android, so they don’t get the updates unless they load the photostream via its weblink. And if that weblink got forwarded erroneously, all privacy would immediately go out the window.
I’ve been on Facebook since 2004, so I’ve added a lot of friends from various contexts in my life. Not all of them are close enough to warrant baby photo sharing, and many are likely not interested in seeing photos of Parker (hopefully not to the point of something like unbaby.me). Other mom friends have mentioned that they too love sharing but worry they are going overboard. Though Facebook seems to already creepily prioritize posts in the newsfeed, it can’t yet read our minds and execute the command “just show this to people I care about and who would actually want to see my baby photos.”
I know there are options for creating tiers of friends like one would in real life, but I’m not interested in trying to coerce Parker into sitting still long enough for me to curate various lists with privacy permissions for seeing my statuses or photos. I’m also not interested in putting in the effort to create, invite people to, and maintain a private Facebook group for sharing his photos. A friend pointed out that several of his friends even made up different names for their kids on Facebook in addition to locking down the privacy settings. I suppose I could always go back to calling Parker his pregnancy nickname of “Henry.”
Instagram would theoretically work if I hadn’t already had a public Instagram. There are options for making photo albums or prints from Instagram photos, which would be cool. However, simply making my account private wouldn’t solve the matter of having Parker’s photos viewable by current followers whom I don’t mind seeing my posts about food, fitness, or teaching but would mind seeing Parker. Keeping the account public makes me wary of issues such as baby catfishing. I ended up deleting all photos of Parker except for his birth announcement and one where he’s in a stroller around my students. I have reserved the Instagram account with his full name, but there’s no easy way to just transfer those past posts to it.
Friends have suggested other apps that were specifically designed for the baby photo sharing use case: Smugmug, 23 Snaps, and Lifecake. Side note: I think this is the death knell of my being on the cutting edge of new technology, because I hadn’t heard of them yet. They seem great with privacy, organization, and ability to create printed photo albums. I do worry about the extra effort required for technology adoption, though apps being consolidated on one’s phone does make this much easier these days. I also worry about having to sort through and upload all of the photos from the past 3.5 months of Parker’s life…the longer I wait to switch, the more onerous that will be.