Our plan for 2024: Flickr Commons & Data Lifeboat & the 100-year Plan

Find out more about our nefarious schemes for the coming year…


When I do planning, I usually carve it up along three axes: Projects, Pipeline, and People. I want to keep our project list very short in 2024. That allows us to focus more deeply, I think, and spend time thinking and waxing and wandering a bit as we map the new terrain of our mission, to keep Flickr images visible for 100 years.


There are three main flows of project work for the team:

  1. Flickr Commons nurturing and growing
  2. Start Data Lifeboat
  3. Continue 100-year plan ideation and workshopping

Flickr Commons

Flickr Commons turned 16 years old last week. To celebrate, we launched the first instantiation of a new front door which lives at commons.flickr.org. The intent is to help Commons fans explore the different members’ collections more easily, and get a sense of recent activity across the aggregate. We hope to do another handful of releases over this year and beyond.

The other good news is that we’re nearly, finally, ready to welcome new members into the program. The software that supported new registrations and members had decayed a bit over the last decade, so, working with the company team—thanks Ruppel et al—we’ve co-designed a new set of Commons-specific APIs that will help the Foundation really lean into supporting Flickr Commons members from now on.

We are going to build: 1) a new registration form, 2) improved onboarding resources/workflow, 3) the new discovery layer you can now see at commons.flickr.org, and 4) better admin tools for the team to watch over the health of the program, and the happiness of our members. This will all be rolling out in the first half of this year. I don’t have a date for our first new tranche of members, but rest assured, we’ll let you know!

Later in the year, we want to find out a lot more about Flickr members interact with Flickr Commons and see if we can support them to more easily keep track of their input and progress. If you fit into this group, we’d like to know you!

Data Lifeboat

Last year, we applied to the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to develop a first set of prototyping for our Data Lifeboat concept. That’s the idea that we should actually plan for a possible end of flickr.com, developing “lifeboats” that can carry Flickr photos to other places if the big ship goes down. It was gratifying that the NEH decided to support this first block of work.

Our framing for the grant is to create two identical lifeboats containing Flickr pictures, “objective metadata” like EXIF, and a first crack at “social metadata”—the stuff that is only created on Flickr—because we think that’s essential for longer term contextual, archival framing of the existence of a Flickr photo. After all, on Flickr (and off) a photo is a social object, that is discussed, arranged, annotated, pointed at, and displayed, and EXIF data (the data that is created when a digital camera takes a photograph) falls short.

We’re planning to post NEH-grant-specific updates the blog at the end of each month, so stay tuned for that. (I’d better write that next!)

The 100-year plan

I don’t have a structure or plan written yet. But, I’ve really enjoyed all the discussions I’ve had about the idea, and especially the various workshops we’ve run in different groups about the idea. Basically, the workshop is called How to write a 100-year plan and my opening gambit is “I don’t know, what do you think” and conversation ensues.

We do hope to be able to at least get that workshop into a form where you might be able to run it without us. We’d let you know about that too.


We’re just over one year old, launching officially in November 2022. We’ve had an amazing start, thanks to support from SmugMug and our first cornerstone funder, Filecoin Foundation for the Decentralized Web. Since then, we’ve figured out how to accept donations of cash online via Stripe, and even stock donations! We’ve sketched out the grants we’re planning to apply for too.


Ewa Spohn, who also helped write the NEH grant for Data Lifeboat, has joined the crew to manage the project. With a background in mechanical engineering, program management, and people-arranging, we’re lucky to have her! Welcome, Ewa!

We’ve brought on a new part-time team member to help wrangle our Pipeline work, Susan Mernit. (Check out her sledgehammer!!) A veteran of the tech industry, Susan changed gears to lead two non-profits in California, to great success. She’s now working with nonprofits to help shore up their development plans and strategy, and we’re very glad she’s come on board to support us.

And, in case you missed it, we’re hiring: Our first job ad for this year is Archivist. It’s live now, closing January 31st.