Developing a New Research Method, Part 1: Photovoice, critical fabulation, and archives

by Prakash Krishnan

Prakash Krishnan is a 2024 Flickr Foundation Research Fellow, working to engage community organizations with the creative possibilities afforded through archival and photo research as well as to unearth and activate some of the rich histories embedded in the Flickr archive.

I had the wonderful opportunity to visit London and Flickr Foundation HQ during the month of May 2024. The first month of my fellowship was a busy one, getting settled in, meeting the team, and making contacts around the UK to share and develop my idea for a new qualitative research method that was inspired by my perusing of just a minuscule fraction of the billions of photos uploaded and visible on

Unlike the brilliant and techno-inspired minds of my Flickr Foundation cohort: George, Alex, Ewa, and Eryk, my head is often drifting in the clouds (the ones in the actual sky) or deep in books, articles, and archives. Since rediscovering Flickr and contemplating its many potential uses, I have activated my past work as a researcher, artist, and cultural worker, to reflect upon the ways Flickr could be used to engage communities in various visual and digital ethnographies.

Stemming from anthropology and the social sciences more broadly, ethnography is a branch of qualitative research involving the study of cultures, communities, or organizations. A visual ethnography thereby employs visual methods, such as photography, film, drawing, or painting.. Similarly, digital ethnography refers to the ethnographic study of cultures and communities as they interact with digital and internet technologies.

In this first post, I will trace a nonlinear timeline of different community-based and academic research projects I have conducted in recent years. Important threads from each of these projects came together to form the basis of the new ethnographic method I have developed over the course of this fellowship, which I call Archivevoice

Visual representations of community

The research I conducted for my masters thesis was an example of a digital, visual ethnography. For a year, I observed Instagram accounts sharing curated South Asian visual media, analyzing the types of content they shared, the different media used, the platform affordances that were engaged with, the comments and discussions the posts incited, and how the posts reflected contemporary news, culture, and politics. I also interviewed five people whose content I had studied. Through this research I observed a strong presence of uniquely diasporic concerns and aesthetics. Many posts critiqued the idea of different nationhoods and national affiliations with the countries founded after the partition of India in 1947 – a violent division of the country resulting in mass displacement and human casualty whose effects are still felt today. Because of this violent displacement and with multiple generations of people descended from the Indian subcontinent living outside of their ancestral territory, among many within the community, I observed a rejection of nationalist identities specific to say India, Pakistan, or Bangladesh. Instead, people were using the term “South Asian” as a general catchall for communities living in the region as well as in the diaspora. Drawing from queer cultural theorist José Esteban Muñoz, I labelled this digital, cultural phenomenon I observed “digital disidentification.”[1] 

My explorations of community-based visual media predate this research. In 2022, I worked with the Montreal grassroots artist collective and studio, Cyber Love Hotel, to develop a digital archive and exhibition space for 3D-scanned artworks and cultural objects called Things+Time. In 2023, we hosted a several-week-long residency program with 10 local, racialized, and queer artists. The residents were trained on archival description and tagging principles, and then selected what to archive. The objects curated and scanned in the context of this residency were in response to the overarching theme loss during the Covid-19 pandemic, in which rampant closures of queer spaces, restaurants, nightlife, music venues, and other community gathering spaces were proliferating across the city.

During complete pandemic lockdown, while working as the manager for cultural mediation at the contemporary gallery Centre CLARK, I conducted a similar project which involved having participants take photographs which responded to a specific prompt. In partnership with the community organization Head & Hands, I mailed disposable cameras to participants from a Black youth group whose activities were based at Head & Hands. Together with artist and CLARK member, Eve Tangy, we created educational videos on the principles of photography and disposable camera use and tasked the participants to go around their neighbourhoods taking photos of moments that, in their eyes, sparked Black Joy—the theme of the project. Following a feedback session with Eve and myself, the two preferred photos from each participants’ photo reels were printed and mounted as part of a community exhibition entitled Nous sommes ici (“We’re Here”) at the entry of Centre CLARK’s gallery. 

These public community projects were not formal or academic, but, I came to understand each of these projects as examples of what is called research-creation (or practice-based research or arts-based research). Through creative methods like curating objects for digital archiving and photography, I, as the facilitator/researcher, was interested in how the media comprising each exhibition would inform myself and the greater public about the experiences of marginalized artists and Black youth at such pivotal moments in these communities.

Photovoice: Empowering research participants

The fact that both these projects involved working with a community and giving them creative control over how they wanted their research presented reminded me of the popular qualitative research method used often within the fields of public health, sociology, and anthropology called Photovoice. The method was originally coined as Photo Novella in 1992 and then later renamed Photovoice in 1996 by researchers Caroline Wang and Mary Ann Burris. The flagship study that established this method for decades involved scholars providing cameras and photography training to low-income women living in rural villages of Yunnan, China.

The goals of this Photovoice research were to better understand, through the perspectives of these women, the challenges they faced within their communities and societies, and to communicate these concerns to policymakers who might be more amenable to photographic representations rather than text. Citing Paulo Freire, Wang and Burris note the potential photographs have to raise consciousness and promote collective action due to their political nature. [5]

According to Wang and Burris, “these images and tales have the potential to reach generations of children to come.” [6] The images created a medium through which these women were able to share their experiences and also relate to each other. Even with 50 villages represented in the research, shared experience and strong reactions to certain photographs came up for participants – including this picture of a young child lying in a field while her mother farmed nearby. 

According to the authors, “the image was virtually universal to their own experience. When families must race to finish seasonal cultivating, when their work load is heavy, and when no elders in the family can look after young ones, mothers are forced to bring their babies to the field. Dust and rain weaken the health of their infants… The photograph was a lightening [sic] rod for the women’s discussion of their burdens and needs.” [8]

Since its conception in the 1990s as a means for participatory needs assessment, many scholars and researchers have expanded Photovoice methodology. Given the exponential increase of camera access via smartphones, Photovoice is an increasingly feasible method for this kind of research. Recurring themes in Photovoice work include community health, mental health studies, ethnic and race-based studies, research with queer communities, as well as specific neighbourhood and urban studies. During the pandemic lockdowns, there were also Photovoice studies conducted entirely online, thus giving rise to the method of virtual Photovoice. [9]

Critical Fabulation: Filling the gaps in visual history

Following my masters thesis research, I became more interested in how communities sought to represent themselves through photography and digital media. Not only that, but also how communities would form and engage with content circulated on social media – despite these people not being the originators of this content. 

In my research, people reacted most strongly to family photographs depicting migration from South Asia to the Global North. Although reasons for emigration varied across the respondents, many people faced similar challenges with the immigration process and resettlement in a new territory. They shared their experiences through commenting online. 

People in communities which are underrepresented in traditional archives are often forced to work with limited documentation. They must do the critical and imaginative work of extrapolating what they find. While photographs can convey biographical, political, or historical meaning, exploring archived images with imagination can foster creative interpretation to fill gaps in the archival record. Scholar of African-American studies, Saidiya Hartman, introduced the term “critical fabulation” to denote this practice of reimagining the sequences of events and actors behind the narratives contained within the archive. In her words, this reconfiguration of story elements, attempts “to jeopardize the status of the event, to displace the received or authorized account, and to imagine what might have happened or might have been said or might have been done.” [10] In reference to depictions of narratives from the Atlantic slave trade in which enslaved people are often referred to as commodities, Hartman writes “the intent of this practice is not to give voice to the slave, but rather to imagine what cannot be verified, a realm of experience which is situated between two zones of death—social and corporeal death—and to reckon with the precarious lives which are visible only in the moment of their disappearance. It is an impossible writing which attempts to say that which resists being said (since dead girls are unable to speak). It is a history of an unrecoverable past; it is a narrative of what might have been or could have been; it is a history written with and against the archive.” [11]

I am investigating what it means to imagine the unverifiable and reckoning what only becomes visible at its disappearance. In 2020, I wrote about Facebook pages serving as archives of queer life in my home town, Montreal. [12] For this study, I once again conducted a digital ethnography, this time of the event pages surrounding a QTPOC (queer/trans person of colour)-led event series known as Gender B(l)ender. Drawing from Sam McBean, I argued that simply having access to these event pages on Facebook creates a space of possibility in which one can imagine themselves as part of these events, as part of these communities – even when physical, in-person participation is not possible. Although critical fabulation was not a method used in this study, it seemed like a precursor to this concept of collectively rethinking, reformulating, and resurrecting untold, unknown, or forgetting histories of the archives. This finally leads us to the project of my fellowship here at the Flickr Foundation.

In addition to this fellowship, I am coordinator of the Access in the Making Lab, a university research lab working broadly on issues of critical disability studies, accessibility, anti-colonialism, and environmental humanities. In my work, I am increasingly preoccupied with the question of methods: 1) how do we do archival research—especially ethical archival research—with historically marginalized communities; and, 2) how can research “subjects” be empowered to become seen as co-producers of research. 

I trace this convoluted genealogy of my own fragmented research and community projects to explain the method I am developing and have proposed to university researchers as a part of my fellowship. Following my work on Facebook and Instagram, I similarly position Flickr as a participatory archive, made by millions of people in millions of communities. [13] Eryk Salvaggio, fellow 2024 Flickr Foundation research fellow, also positions Flickr as an archive such that it “holds digital copies of historical artifacts for individual reflection and context.” [14] From this theoretical groundwork of seeing these online social image/media repositories as archives, I seek to position archival items – i.e. the photos uploaded to – as a medium for creative interpretation by which researchers could better understand the lived realities of different communities, just like the Photovoice researchers. I am calling this set of work and use cases “Archivevoice”.

In part two of this series, I will explore the methodology itself in more detail including a guide for researchers interested in engaging with this method.


[1] Prakash Krishnan, “Digital Disidentifications: A Case Study of South Asian Instagram Community Archives,” in The Politics and Poetics of Indian Digital Diasporas: From Desi to Brown (Routledge, 2024),

[2] Caroline Wang and Mary Ann Burris, “Empowerment through Photo Novella: Portraits of Participation,” Health Education Quarterly 21, no. 2 (1994): 171–86.

[3] Kunyi Wu, Visual Voices, 100 Photographs of Village China by the Women of Yunnan Province, 1995.

[4] Wu.

[5] Caroline Wang and Mary Ann Burris, “Photovoice: Concept, Methodology, and Use for Participatory Needs Assessment,” Health Education & Behavior 24, no. 3 (1997): 384.

[6] Wang and Burris, “Empowerment through Photo Novella,” 179.

[7] Wang and Burris, “Empowerment through Photo Novella.”

[8] Wang and Burris, 180.

[9] John L. Oliffe et al., “The Case for and Against Doing Virtual Photovoice,” International Journal of Qualitative Methods 22 (March 1, 2023): 16094069231190564,

[10] Saidiya Hartman, “Venus in Two Acts,” Small Axe 12, no. 2 (2008): 11.

[11] Hartman, 12.

[12] Prakash Krishnan and Stefanie Duguay, “From ‘Interested’ to Showing Up: Investigating Digital Media’s Role in Montréal-Based LGBTQ Social Organizing,” Canadian Journal of Communication 45, no. 4 (December 8, 2020): 525–44,

[13] Isto Huvila, “Participatory Archive: Towards Decentralised Curation, Radical User Orientation, and Broader Contextualisation of Records Management,” Archival Science 8, no. 1 (March 1, 2008): 15–36,

[14] Eryk Salvaggio, “The Ghost Stays in the Picture, Part 1: Archives, Datasets, and Infrastructures,” Flickr Foundation (blog), May 29, 2024,


Hartman, Saidiya. “Venus in Two Acts.” Small Axe 12, no. 2 (2008): 1–14.

Huvila, Isto. “Participatory Archive: Towards Decentralised Curation, Radical User Orientation, and Broader Contextualisation of Records Management.” Archival Science 8, no. 1 (March 1, 2008): 15–36.

Krishnan, Prakash. “Digital Disidentifications: A Case Study of South Asian Instagram Community Archives.” In The Politics and Poetics of Indian Digital Diasporas: From Desi to Brown. Routledge, 2024.

Krishnan, Prakash, and Stefanie Duguay. “From ‘Interested’ to Showing Up: Investigating Digital Media’s Role in Montréal-Based LGBTQ Social Organizing.” Canadian Journal of Communication 45, no. 4 (December 8, 2020): 525–44.

Oliffe, John L., Nina Gao, Mary T. Kelly, Calvin C. Fernandez, Hooman Salavati, Matthew Sha, Zac E. Seidler, and Simon M. Rice. “The Case for and Against Doing Virtual Photovoice.” International Journal of Qualitative Methods 22 (March 1, 2023): 16094069231190564.

Salvaggio, Eryk. “The Ghost Stays in the Picture, Part 1: Archives, Datasets, and Infrastructures.” Flickr Foundation (blog), May 29, 2024.

Wang, Caroline, and Mary Ann Burris. “Empowerment through Photo Novella: Portraits of Participation.” Health Education Quarterly 21, no. 2 (1994): 171–86.

———. “Photovoice: Concept, Methodology, and Use for Participatory Needs Assessment.” Health Education & Behavior 24, no. 3 (1997): 369–87.

Wu, Kunyi. Visual Voices, 100 Photographs of Village China by the Women of Yunnan Province, 1995.

New Grant from the Mellon Foundation!

by George Oates

It’s my great pleasure to let you know about another step forward for the Flickr Foundation today. We’ve been awarded a grant in the Public Knowledge program of the Mellon Foundation to continue our development of the Data Lifeboat. Yay!

What’s the grant for?

It’s a 12-month grant, and mostly involves using the prototype work we’ve been doing to demonstrate and discuss the concept with our community. We can’t wait to hold the two events we have planned in the (Northern hemisphere) autumn, and we’ll likely be having them on the East Coast of the USA, and in our homebase, London. If you’d like to learn more about attending one of these small meetings, please let us know via hello [at]

We expect to also iterate on the software itself, but we’re not quite sure where we’ll end up just yet, especially if all our conversations result in us needing to pursue different directions.

Growing the team

As part of this grant, we’ll be advertising for two new roles, likely on contract: Researcher and Software Developer. Stay tuned for those!

What’s a Data Lifeboat again?

A Data Lifeboat is an archival piece of Flickr, not all of the 50 billion images and their metadata. For example, a Lifeboat might contain all the photos tagged with “sunflower” or all the Recipes to Share group submissions. Whatever facet of the data you can think of, you could generate a Data Lifeboat for it. We envision an archival sliver richer than a mere folder of JPGs: one where you can navigate the content to explore and understand its networked context. Even better, an archival sliver that is updated if things change at

Today, Flickr members can make an archive of their own photostream, and that works really well. You can “get your data” and that download includes most, if not all, of the kinds of information we expect a Data Lifeboat to contain. And, we want to take it two steps further, from an archival point of view:

  1. Allow creators to make Data Lifeboats that can contain other people’s images (with permission, and that’s very, very gnarly), and
  2. We plan to develop ‘known places’ for Data Lifeboats to land, so they can be registered or even accessioned as bonafide objects of meaningful cultural value. We’re calling those landing places Docks. That work is probably going to start in earnest in 2025.

In our ideal world, these docks will live inside our great and good cultural organizations, spreading the load, responsibility, and acknowledgement that our digital, user-generated cultural heritage is valuable and worthy of the attention and care our archives, museums, and libraries can provide. Jenn’s recent deeper dive into this is worth your time.

Building steadily

Our prototyping stage is nearly done now, within which we expect to come out with some Data Lifeboats to look at and critique, some “prototype policies” for Flickr members, Data Lifeboat creators, and possible “dock” operators. We are also doing some foundational work on models for sustainability, because, as you will know, to date, we’ve been largely quite bad at planning for long term life for our digital projects.

Thank you

A huge thank you to Jenn and Ewa for your fantastic support getting the grant application done, and to the team at Mellon for such constructive feedback.

On the way to 100 years of Flickr

A report on archival strategies

By Ashley Kelleher Skjøtt

Flickr is an important piece of social history that pioneered user-driven curation, through folksonomic tags and through a publicly-accessible platform at scale, crystallising the web 2.0 internet. Applying tags to one’s own images and those of others, Flickr’s users significantly contributed to the emergence of commons culture. These collective practices became a core tenet of Flickr’s design ethos as a platform, decentralising and democratising the role of curation.

Of course, Flickr was not alone in pioneering this—hashtags and social sharing on other platforms added momentum to the general shift which was overall democratising by giving users agency over what they shared, experienced, and categorised. This shift in curatorial agency is just one aspect of Flickr’s significance as a living piece of social history.

Flickr continues to be one of the largest public collections of photographs on the planet, comprising tens of billions of images. Flickr celebrated its 20th birthday in February 2024. The challenge of archiving Flickr at scale, then, perhaps becomes about designing processes for preservation which can also be decentralised.

In August 2023, I learnt from a dear friend and colleague, Dan Pett, that the Flickr Foundation, newly based in London, was beginning to build an innovative archival practice for the platform. With my interest in digital cultural memory systems, an interest for which I have moved continents, I was determined to contribute in some way to the Foundation’s new goal. After exploring and discussing the space with George Oates, Director of the Flickr Foundation, we agreed that a practice-based information-gathering exercise could be useful in building up an understanding of such a practice.

So, what would an archive for Flickr look like?

Flickr is a living social media environment, with up to 25 million images uploaded each day. The reality of the company’s being acquired by a number of different parent companies over the course of its 20-year lifetime—already a remarkable timespan by social media standards—additionally brings to the forefront a stark case for working to ensure the availability of its contents into the long future. This is a priority shared today between Flickr itself and the new Flickr Foundation.

I have prepared a report of findings, written over a deliberately slow period and which aims to present a colloquial yet current answer to the question of archival practice for Flickr as a unique case, both when it comes to scale and defining what should be prioritised for preservation. Presuming that the platform is not invulnerable to media obsolescence, what on earth (or space) should an archive preserving the best of Flickr look like today? The work of asking this question again and again through the days, months, years, and decades to come leads us to the Foundation’s own question: what does it look like to ensure Flickr lasts for one hundred years?

REPORT: 20 Years of Flickr: Archiving the Living Environment

This information-gathering exercise consisted of seven interviews with sector peers across a wide range of practice, from academia to a small company, to a global design practice and within the museum world. My sincere thanks to:

  • Alex Seville (Head of Flickr),
  • Cass Fino-Radin (Small Data Industries),
  • Richard Palmer (V&A Museum),
  • Annet Dekker (University of Amsterdam),
  • Jenny Basford (British Library),
  • Matthew Hoerl (Arch Mission Foundation), and
  • Julie May (Bjarke Ingels Group)

Many thanks for taking the time to generously share their thoughts on the prospect, reflections on their own work, and expertise in the area.

The report sets out to define the value of what should be preserved for Flickr, as (1) a social platform, (2) a network-driven community, (3) a collection of uniquely user-generated metadata, and (4) as an invaluable image collection, specifically of photography. It then proceeds through a discussion of risks identified through the course of interviews. Finally, it proceeds through ten identified areas of practice which can be addressed in the Foundation’s archival plan, divided into long- and short-term initiatives. The report closes with six recommendations for the present.

An archive for Flickr which honours its considerable legacy should be created in the same vein. One interviewee reflected that the work of the archivist is to select what to preserve. This is, effectively, curation – the curation of archival material. It follows then, that if a central innovation of Flickr as a platform was to democratise the application of curatorial tools – enabling tags as metadata based in natural language, at scale – then the approach to archiving such a platform should follow this model in allowing its selection to be driven by users. What about a “preserve” tag?

Thanks to Flickr and other internet pioneers, this is far from any kind of revolutionary idea – and is one worth creating an archival practice around, so that coming generations can access the stories we want to tell about Flickr: the story of the internet, of the commons, of building open structures to find new images and of what it means to be a community, online.

Introducing Prakash Krishnan, 2024 Research Fellow

Prakash Krishnan (he/him) is an artist-researcher and cultural worker based in Tiohtià:ke (Montréal, Canada) on the stolen lands of the Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) Nation. His recent projects explore various issues relating to accessibility and disability justice, community archival practices, and environmental humanities. He is joining the Flickr Foundation as a research fellow from May to July 2024. 

What’s drawn you to family archives?

For a class on research-creation methods (also referred to as arts-based research) I took in 2019, I had big ambitions of creating an experimental, non-narrative documentary using cellphone footage during a planned trip to my parents’ home country of Malaysia. Upon returning home and examining the footage, I unfortunately came to the realization that a combination of obsolete technology (an iPhone 4S in the year of the iPhone 11 – imagine!!!), corrupted sound, and sabotage by my own, unsteady hands rendered my footage unusable. Scrambling to find some way to complete my term project in the final weeks of the semester, I decided to undergo what I saw as an intrapersonal reflection via an investigation of my own family archives. 

These “archives” are fairly small. Limited to the albums of photos my parents once carefully categorized and now just haphazardly store in a pile on a basement shelf. I confess that when living with my parents as a child, I was too self-centred to pay attention to any of the albums that didn’t include me. As the firstborn and only a year after my parents’ marriage, effectively I was prominently featured in all the albums except one. Paging through the album documenting my parents’ courtship, wedding, and first year of marriage, I was embarrassed by my shock of confronting these two people, whom I’ve evidently known my whole life, living this whole other life without me. As I passed on to the albums of my infancy, I became overcome with emotion seeing them making their life together, still virtually strangers having had an arranged marriage and finding themselves shortly thereafter in a new country, facing what I know now as the pressures that come with being not only new parents, but new immigrants, newly coupled, and struggling with finding lasting employment. 

Inspired by my reaction to these albums, I planned on conducting an oral history interview with my parents. I wanted to know the people in these photos, what they were thinking, feeling, doing. Yet there was something holding me back. The photos were so intimate, often only one of them in the shot, as the other was behind the camera. These felt like private moments between the two of them that was solely theirs to wholly know and experience. Instead, I took a selection of these photos and wrote my own reflections. Searching back through my own memories of the rare times my parents spoke about their youth and the early years of their marriage, I pieced together a history of their early settlement and parenthood in Canada (circa 1991-1995) through written reflections and image descriptions I then inscribed on the digitized copies of the photos. I’m usually not a very emotionally expressive person, but I cried when I presented this to my class. 

This experience fundamentally changed my relationship to photo archives and sowed the seeds for what would become my master’s thesis South Asian Instagram Community Archives: A Platform for Performance, Curation, and Identity as well as my approach to creative and poetic visual description for blind and low-vision communities as workshopped in the online exhibitions Audio Description in the Making and Air, River, Sea, Soil: A History of an Exploited Land

Continuing this line of engagement along with my community archival engagement approaches prototyped in the community digital archive/exhibition project Things+Time,

What would you like to work on during your fellowship?

I will, over the course of my fellowship at the Flickr Foundation, work with two community organizations, one based in London, UK and one in Montreal, Canada to undergo a digital archival excavation workshop. Through a series of guided prompts and reflections, these community groups will decide specific search criteria in order to activate the Flickr archive, creating informal collections that respond to and inform the earlier reflections. Together, community members will create descriptions for the images that can dually serve as archival and visual descriptions for potential use in a future exhibition.

Using a “photovoice” methodology, participants will also be tasked with adding their own, related and annotated material to the Flickr archive in response to the collective and reflections feedback from the workshop.

The goals of this project are to engage community organizations with the creative possibilities afforded through archival and photo research as well as to unearth and activate some of the rich histories embedded in the Flickr archive.

Introducing Eliza Gregory, research partner

Eliza Gregory is a social practice artist, a photographer, an educator and a writer.

Research is a key facet of the Flickr Foundation’s work. We are gathering a group of intersectional researcher partners to question the idea of a 21st century image archive together, and Eliza is one of them.

Who ARE you, Eliza?

My name is Eliza Gregory. I’m a mom of two daughters, a wife/partner, a photographer, a social practice artist, a curator, and an educator. I like cake and noodles and I keep chickens. I have issues with chronic clutter. I am getting more and more interested in plants. This might be the result of middle age, or it might be related to feeling like connecting with plants is the roadmap back from total social and environmental collapse. Or both.

For about ten years I made work about cultural identity and cultural adaptation through a mixture of large format portraiture, interviews, events and relationships. Those projects focused on resettled refugee households in Phoenix, Arizona; mapping the wide array of Australian cultural identities (indigenous, recent-immigrant, and long-time-ago-immigrant; cultural identity tied to gender and sexuality, etc.) in the neighborhood where I lived in Melbourne; and immigration to the Bay Area in California over the last 40+ years.

More recently, I curated a show called Photography & Tenderness that investigates how we can hold photography accountable for the ways in which it has been used to build a racist society and somehow still use it to make something tender. That took place at Wave Pool Art Fulfillment Center in Cincinnati, OH as part of the Cincinnati FotoFocus 2022 Biennial.

And I’ve been working on a project I call [Placeholder], about holding and being held by place. It investigates relationships between people and land and asks what might happen if we acknowledged the fundamental rupture that has occurred between land and people, and began working to repair it. So far I’m mainly in the research phase of that work, but my research has taken place with my students at Sacramento State University, and with other artists, and I’ve pulled together two different exhibitions to invite audiences into that research at Axis Gallery, Sacramento, CA: [Placeholder] a studio visit with Eliza Gregory and [Placeholder]: florilegia.


I started out my career trained as a fine art photographer and a creative writer. I have always been interested in telling stories with pictures, but as soon as I tried my hand at it I got caught up in questions about the ethical implications of making an object about (i.e. objectifying) another person. I started to solve those problems by building out relationships and project structures that relied on exchange and accountability, and then went to grad school in Art & Social Practice at Portland State University. That program was a revelation for me and really provided the tools and the language I needed to keep building out my work in a way that felt good. In my experience, the dialogue around social practice is much more radical and useful and socially critical than the dialogue around photography, so I’ve really leaned into that space. But I still enjoy pictures and appreciate how powerful they can be.

Flickr is an interesting organization because it hosts a lot of pictures, but it also catalyzes a lot of relationships and interactions around those pictures. So Flickr represents an institution based around social practice and photography, in a certain way.

Why did you join as a research partner at

What is the relationship between justice and photographic representation? That is a question I think about a lot.

The human brain likes to simplify things. It’s how we are able to perceive so much and yet still focus on a single task or idea. And it’s why we take something like a human being, with a whole life full of perceptions and feelings and paradoxes, and reduce them to a single descriptor–child. American. Woman. White. Cis-gendered. Hetero. Middle aged. Tall. Pink. (I had someone I was photographing once tell me I was “big and pink.” And…I couldn’t argue.) Or we take an individual from another species, who has a whole life full of specific experiences, and reduce it to just the species name: rat. Grey squirrel. Monarch. Or even more reductively: Tree. Butterfly.

Photographs basically do the same thing. You take a whole moment filled with a million different feelings, thoughts, respirations, scents, sensations, views and reduce it to one small, flat, rectangle. And we call that a picture. And we equate it with “truth.”

That’s a problematic process, based on a problematic (though necessary and useful) human tendency. It’s inherently reductive. And yet we see it as a mechanism for communication, inquiry and learning. Photography can be a mechanism for those things, certainly. I used it for that purpose in a project called Massive Urban Change, where I photographed a dynamic urban environment that you can never fully take in SO that it would hold still; so that you could look at it more closely. But that reductive quality of photography can be used for radically different ends. It has also been a tool for building racist societies; for creating and cementing stereotypes; for mapping natural resources for extraction and destruction. Sometimes photography obfuscates truly important complexities by reducing things too much.

A lot of my work has been about interrogating the process of making photographs, especially of people (and now of places) to try to understand when photography is doing what we like to tell ourselves it’s doing, and when it’s doing something else.

I want to know, how do photographs shape the stories we tell ourselves, and how do those stories, in turn, shape society?

Thinking about Flickr is a way of approaching some of these questions. And thinking about how to conserve Flickr adds a whole new dimension to them.  I wanted to work with the Flickr Foundation mostly because I like the people it is bringing together–there is so much work going on around archiving images and cataloging images and reading images and finding certain images that goes beyond what I know as a maker of images. I love getting to be at the table with people who work on photography from such different angles. It helps blast me out of my normal frame of reference.

I also want to be bringing my students into photographic dialogues that are larger than our classroom. The Flickr Foundation is actively thinking about how to intersect with students and curriculum design. I want to create opportunities for my students to do meaningful work, and I see the Flickr Foundation as a partner in that.

Finally, I really love exhibitions. In some ways, exhibitions seem to be heading toward obsolescence, much like museums themselves. Both those structures are built on gatekeeping, colonial hierarchies, and a top-down, hierarchical flow of knowledge. So in the social practice dialogues I am a part of, sometimes the exhibition as a form feels sort of passé. But I love it as a way of creating experiences for people, of shaping or catalyzing dialogues, of giving people a gift. And the Flickr Foundation feels like a partner that I could potentially build visual experiences (exhibitions!) with.

What do you think will be the hardest parts of achieving its 100-year plan?

The questions around how to conserve digital material for a hundred years are HARD. That’s what I learned from bringing some of those questions to a group of senior photography students at Sacramento State University this fall. George has been delivering a 100 year plan workshop to various groups, and we conducted a version of that experience with my students. It’s basically asking people to think about what digital images will look like, consist of, and be viewed through in 100 years. As well as, What will it take to preserve a digital image we have now for that long? And how do you build an organization that can do that?

George had us start with finding an image of a place that’s meaningful to us, and then going out and trying to find the oldest photograph we can of that same place. Right away, that activity makes you think about how we view places, and what photographs we have access to, and what places we have access to visually. I once asked a group of photo history students, What is a photograph you wish you could see that’s impossible to make? A really surprising number of them said, “I wish I could see a picture of the pyramids being constructed!” That feels like a complementary mind-exercise to me, because we are so used to being able to see anything and everything we want in pictures. It’s important to remember that they haven’t always existed. And to contemplate what is un-photographable.

Then my students and I struggled to project our imaginations even into the near future to anticipate how technology will change, how behaviors will change around technology (both as it currently exists, and in terms of platforms and processes that haven’t been invented yet), and what it will mean to actually translate a jpg into multiple new file formats without losing whatever data make it a recognizable image in the first place.

Everything about this seems hard to me. The only things I’ve been able to hang on to so far, and visualize, are some of the foundation’s ideas around ritual—perhaps there will be a ritualized translation from one format to another every five or ten years. The idea that conserving something by allowing it to change feels very resonant—perhaps that is a shift in perspective that we are approaching on many fronts at once, from interpersonal relations (growth mindset!) to global ecology (I’m thinking of Anna Tsing’s book The Mushroom at the End of the World).

The scale is also difficult to fathom. 50 billion images is…so many images. And the collection is likely to grow. So the usual questions around archives are present too—what do we keep? What do we throw away? How does someone access the resource? How does someone FIND what they are looking for? (And along the way can we help them maybe find a few things they aren’t looking for but need or want to see?)

At the end we made zines to try to pull our thoughts together.

How do you hope to use the partnership to further your own research?

In my current artistic work, I research intergenerational narratives—both because inserting ourselves into them in families leads to improved mental health and in terms of how thinking about intergenerational narratives shifts our understanding of stewardship of the land that cares for us—and I’m a photographer. So the question, How do we approach the conservation of digital images for future generations? relates to HOW we are going to tell those intergenerational stories. I think that some of the long-term storytelling strategies we’ve lost track of or never understood within British-influenced contemporary American colonist culture—such as oral history and land-based, place-based knowledge—are tools we might turn to. But right now we are so image-obsessed that pictures will be in the mix too, and they might be the bridge that gets us to new (or old!) styles of connection, communication and storytelling.

Eliza Gregory is an artist and educator. She makes complex projects that unfold over time to reveal compassion, insight and new social forms.

With apologies to Eliza for leaving it so long to post this! ❤️
– George

Data Lifeboat Update 3

March has been productive. The short version is it’s complicated but we’re exploring happily, and adjusting the scope in small ways to help simplify it. Let me summarise the main things we did this month.

Legal workshop

We welcomed two of our advisors—Neil from the Bodleian and Andrea from GLAM e-Lab—to our HQ to get into the nitty gritty of what a 50-year-old Data Lifeboat needs to accommodate. 

As we began the conversation, I centred us in the C.A.R.E. Principles and asked that we always keep them in our sights for this work. The main future challenges are settling around the questions of how identity and the right to be forgotten must be expressed, how Flickr account holders can or should be identified, and whether an external name resolver service of some kind could help us. We think we should develop policies for Flickr members (on consent to be in a Data Lifeboat), Data Lifeboat creators (on their obligations as creators), and Dock Operators (an operations manual & obligations for operating a dock). It’s possible there will also be some challenges ahead around database rights, but we don’t know enough yet to give a good update. We’d like a first-take legal framework of the Data Lifeboat system to be an outcome of these first six months.

Privacy & licensing

These are key concepts central to Flickr—privacy and licensing—and we must make sure we do our utmost to respect them in all our work. It would be irresponsible for us to jettison the desires encoded in those settings for our convenience, tempting though that may be. By that I mean, it would be easier for us to make Data Lifeboats that contained whatever photos from whomever, but we must respect the desires of Flickr creators in the creation process. 

There are still big and unanswered questions about consent, and how we get millions of Flickr members to agree to participate and give permission to allow their pictures to be put in other people’s Data Lifeboats. 

Extending the prototype Data Lifeboat sets 

Initially, we had planned to run this 6-month prototype stage with just one test set of images, which would be some or all of the Flickr Commons photographs. But in order to explore the challenges around privacy and licensing, we’ve decided to expand our set of working prototypes to also include the entire Library of Congress Flickr Commons account, and all the photos tagged with “flickrhq” (since that set is something the Flickr Foundation may decide to collect for its own archive and contains photographs from different Flickr members who also happen to have been Flickr staff and would therefore (theoretically) be more sympathetic to the consent question).

Visit to Greenwich

Ewa spotted that there was an exhibition of ambrotype photographic portraits of women in the RNLI at the Maritime Museum in Greenwich at the moment, so we decided to take a day trip to see the portraits and poke around the brilliant museum. We ended up taking a boat from Greenwich to Battersea which was a nice way to experience the Thames (and check out that boat’s life saving capabilities).

Day Out: Maritime Museum & Lifeboats

Day Out: Maritime Museum & Lifeboats

The Data Lifeboat creation process

I found myself needing to start sketching out what it could look like to actually create a Data Lifeboat, and particularly not via a command line, so we spent a while in front of a whiteboard kicking that off. 

At this point, we’re imagining a few key steps:

  1. The Query – “I want these photos” – is like a search. We could borrow from our existing Flinumeratr toy.
  2. The Results – Show the images, some metadata. But it’s hard to show information about the set in aggregate at this stage, e.g., how many of the contents are licensed in which way. This could form a manifest for the Data Lifeboat..
  3. Agreement – We think there’s a need for the Data Lifeboat creator to agree to certain terms. Simple, active language that echoes the CARE principles, API ToS, and Flickr Community Guidelines. We think this should also be included in the Data Lifeboat it’s connected with.
  4. README / Note to the Future – we love the idea that the Data Lifeboat creator could add a descriptive narrative at this point, about why they are making this lifeboat, and for whom, but we recognised that this may not get done at all, especially if it’s too complicated or time-consuming. This is also a good spot to describe or configure warnings, timers, or other conditions needed for future access. Thanks also to two of our other advisors – Commons members Mary Grace and Alan – who shared with us their organisation’s policies on acquisitions for reference.
  5. Packaging – This would be asynchronous and invisible to the creator; downloading everything in the background. We realised it could take days, especially if there are lots of Data Lifeboats being made at once.
  6. Ready! – The Data Lifeboat creator gets a note somehow about the Data Lifeboat being ready for download. We may need to consider keeping it available only for a short time(?).

Creation Schematic, 19th March

Emergency v Non-Emergency 

We keep coming up against this… 

The original concept of the Data Lifeboat is a response to the near-death experience that Flickr had in 2017 when its then-owner, Verizon/Yahoo, almost decided to vaporise it because they deemed it too expensive to sell (something known as “the cost of economic divestment”). So, in the event of that kind of emergency, we’d want to try to save as much of this unique collection as possible as quickly as possible, so we’d need a million lifeboats full of pictures created more or less simultaneously or certainly in a relatively short period of time. 

In the early days of this work, Alex said that the pressure of this kind of emergency would be the equivalent of being “hugged to death by the archivists,” as we all try— in very caring and responsible ways—to save as much as we can. And then there’s the bazillion-emergency-hits-to-the-API-connection problem—aka the “Thundering Herd” problem—which we do not yet have a solution for, and which is very likely to affect any other social media platforms that may also be curious to explore this concept.

We’re connecting with the team to start discussing how to address this challenge. We’re beginning to think about how emergency selection might work, as well as the present, and future, challenges of establishing the identity of photo subjects and account owners. The millions of lifeboats that would be created would surely need the support of the company to launch if they’re ever needed.

This work is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

NEH logo

New! Flickr Commons Explorer

At the Flickr Foundation, one of the goals we set early on when we took over responsibility for running the Flickr Commons program was to build an improved ‘discovery layer’ for the Commons collection.

We’re pleased to share with you a first look at our new Commons Explorer, available at

We’ve built the explorer using the standard Flickr API, and have created a secondary database which is updated pretty regularly. (This is a way of us saying not all the data is live live.) And, please note that photos on display link back to

It’s a work in development, but we wanted to show you our progress in this early version. We’ve prioritized being able to look across the Commons in an interface that’s richer than search results. We’re surfacing activity levels across the collection too, to show that there’s a ton of chatting happening, and new uploads all the time.

The views we’ve built so far:

Home page

This is a list of recent uploads from across the Commons collection, and a sample of our members.


This is a list of all the Flickr Commons members, which you can sort in different ways. We’ve set it to be sorted by the member with the most recent upload, so you’ll see active members at a glance.

Each member has their own page, where you can see their popular tags, interesting photos, and recent uploads.


For the first time ever, you can enjoy catching up on the last week’s conversations about photos in Flickr Commons. You’ll see immediately the fantastic community that’s grown up around members like the National Library of Ireland’s photostream, and get to know some of the volunteer researchers inhabiting and contributing their time and detective skills to enrich the Commons.


Here we present activity across the collection, like uploading volumes, comments, and popular tags across the collection…


A simple static page which outlines what we’re doing. And finally…


We’ve made a bone simple search for the explorer too, so you can quickly see a splat of pictures about just about anything. Even with a few million photos, there’s a huge range of tagging and other description happening. Jump into London, pie, Istanbul, and smiles, or just look for the magnifying glass in the top right of the nav bar.

We hope you enjoy exploring, and, please let us know if you have ideas for how we can improve upon what’s there so far!

In other Flickr Commons news

We are working with the Flickr company to develop a new set of API methods the Foundation will be able to use to build the member management tools we need to really lean into rejuvenating the Commons and especially growing the new membership. If we can introduce 5-10 new members to the program this year, we’ll be stoked! More, we’ll be even stoked-er.

This will involve a new home for registrations of interest, and a smoother onboarding experience for new members as they come on board. Generally, we’re looking forward to new insights into the overall health of the program in the form of better views on activity (the beginnings of which you can see in

If you are either from an existing member institution, or you’re curious about joining in and sharing your historical photography collections, please let us know.

In our early research back in 2021, we noted we wanted to get to know more of the volunteer community too, and see if we can learn about their needs for participating with research and commentary, and I’m pleased to report we’ve begun that, with our first interview with a prominent community member last week. (I was so excited I could barely talk, but Jessamyn wisely recorded the conversation and will be reporting on it soon.)

Introducing Eryk Salvaggio, 2024 Research Fellow

Eryk Salvaggio is a researcher and new media artist interested in the social and cultural impacts of artificial intelligence. His work, which is centered in creative misuse and the right to refuse, critiques the mythologies and ideologies of tech design that ignore the gaps between datasets and the world they claim to represent. A blend of hacker, policy researcher, designer and artist, he has been published in academic journals, spoken at music and film festivals, and consulted on tech policy at the national level.

Ghosts in the Archives Become Ghosts in the Machines

I’m honored to be joining the Flickr Foundation to imagine  the next 100 years of Flickr, thinking critically about the relationships between datasets, history, and archives in the age of generative AI. 

AI is thick with stories, but we tend to only focus on one of them. The big AI story is that, with enough data and enough computing power, we might someday build a new caretaker for the human race: a so-called “superintelligence.” While this story drives human dreams and fears—and dominates the media sphere and policy imagination—it obscures the more realistic story about AI: what it is, what it means, and how it was built.

The invisible stories of AI are hidden in its training data. They are human: photographs of loved ones, favorite places, things meant to be looked at and shared. Some of them are tragic or traumatic. When we look at the output of a large language model (LLM), or the images made by a diffusion model, we’re seeing a reanimation of thousands of points of visual data — data that was generated by people like you and me, posting experiences and art to other people over the World Wide Web. It’s the story of our heritage, archives and the vast body of human visual culture. 

I approach generated images as a kind of seance, a reanimation of these archives and data points which serve as the techno-social debris of our past. These images are broken down — diffused — into new images by machine learning models. But what ghosts from the past move into the images these models make? What haunts the generated image from within the training data? 

In “Seance of the Digital Image” I began to seek out the “ghosts” that haunt the material that machines use to make new images. In my residency with the Flickr Foundation, I’ll continue to dig into training data — particularly, the Flickr Commons collection — to see the ways it shapes AI-generated images. These will not be one to one correlations, because that’s not how these models work.

So how do these diffusion models work? How do we make an image with AI? The answer to this question is often technical: a system of diffusion, in which training images are broken down into noise and reassembled. But this answer ignores the cultural component of the generated image. Generative AI is a product of training datasets scraped from the web, and entangled in these datasets are vast troves of cultural heritage data and photographic archives. When training data-driven AI tools, we are diffusing data, but we are also diffusing visual culture. 


Eryk Salvaggio: Flowers Blooming Backward Into Noise (2023) from ARRG! on Vimeo.


In my research, I have developed a methodology for “reading” AI-generated images as the products of these datasets, as a way of interrogating the biases that underwrite them. Since then, I have taken an interest in this way of reading for understanding the lineage, or genealogy, of generated images: what stew do these images make with our archives? Where does it learn the concept of what represents a person, or a tree, or even an archive? Again, we know the technical answer. But what is the cultural answer to this question? 

By looking at generated images and the prompts used to make them, we’ll build a way to map their lineages: the history that shapes and defines key concepts and words for image models. My hope is that this endeavor shows us new ways of looking at generated images, and to surface new stories about what such images mean.

As the tech industry continues building new infrastructures on this training data, our window of opportunity for deciding what we give away to these machines is closing, and understanding what is in those datasets is difficult, if not impossible. Much of the training data is proprietary, or has been taken offline. While we cannot map generated images to their true training data, massive online archives like Flickr give us insight into what they might be. Through my work with the Flickr Foundation, I’ll look at the images from institutions and users to think about what these images mean in this generated era. 

In this sense, I will interrogate what haunts a generated image, but also what haunts the original archives: what stories do we tell, and which do we lose? I hope to reverse the generated image in a meaningful way: to break the resulting image apart, tackling correlations between the datasets that train them, the archives that built those datasets, and the images that emerge from those entanglements.

Data Lifeboat: NEH Grant Update 1

By Ewa Spohn

And we’re off! Thanks to the Digital Humanities Advancement Grant we were awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, our work on the Data Lifeboat has started, in our Content Mobility program. We’ll be posting an update for you each month. 

hand-drawn sketch of a decentralization methodology, Feb 2nd, 2024

Excellent Lifeboat-related game and book brought in by Alex for our Kick-off

What’s a Data Lifeboat?

A quick recap for those not familiar with the concept, from our grant narrative:

A Data Lifeboat is an archival piece of Flickr, not all of the 50 billion images and their metadata. For example, a Lifeboat might contain all the photos tagged with “sunflower” or all the Recipes to Share group submissions. Whatever facet of the data you can think of, you could generate a Data Lifeboat for it. We envision an archival sliver richer than a mere folder of JPGs: one where you can navigate the content to explore and understand its networked context. Even better, an archival sliver that is updated if things change at Our goals with this project are to create several rough prototypes of the software, develop a reasonably detailed understanding of the main technical challenges, prepare a survey of critical ongoing legal issues, and establish a robust design direction for further product development.”

This idea was born from two challenges: 1) Flickr contains a multitude of shared histories, and is owned and controlled by a corporation which could decide to close the service, which—as we’ve seen in the past—can result in the destruction of cultural heritage, and 2) the Flickr archive is huge and, in its current form, impossible for any one archival institution to take on.

Flickr’s 50 billion or so photos reflect our diverse heritage, traditions, and history back to us in a unique way. The collection is also born digital, a massive advantage over conventional archives, because the photographers usually describe their pictures themselves as they publish. The pictures are also enriched by the network of social activity that surrounds them, which – again – is unique to the Flickrverse. Finally, this kind of volume is astonishing: Flickr and other platforms like it are orders of magnitude larger than our biggest cultural collections to date.

At the Foundation, we believe we must begin to treat this collection as we would our ‘traditional’ great libraries, archives, and collections. Time is of the essence: the commercial platforms that host these kinds of huge collections can (and do) disappear, effectively sinking our heritage along with them. Our hope is that a Data Lifeboat will carry Flickr images away from the possibility of a sinking ship unscathed. Our future plans include developing the idea of a “dock” in a “safe harbour” – somewhere specific for the Data Lifeboat to land and be preserved.

The scope of the grant

We’re using the NEH grant to create two identical prototype Data Lifeboats containing a selection of the Flickr Commons. This will (hopefully) be a richer archival format that allows for the exploration of content within its networked context, and one that can be updated when changes are introduced in Importantly, we want to place these two Lifeboats in two different places, a proxy for our developing goal of “safe harbours” for them.

This phase of the project, making a demonstrable prototype, or prototypes, is scheduled to end mid-year.

Our crew

It’s an exciting and completely new thing, and working on it is a multidisciplinary team drawn from both the Flickr Foundation and our Flickr Commons members and advisors:

  • George Oates, Project Director, who provides strategic and design input, and financial oversight
  • Alex Chan, Tech Lead, who is developing the core of our prototypes
  • Jessamyn West, Community Manager, who leads our communication with the Flickr Commons collaborators, the project advisors, as well as broader audiences
  • Ewa Spohn, Project Manager, who ensures the team sticks to the plan. And budget

We’re excited to engage some of our Flickr Commons members directly for the first time, too. The Flickr Foundation team will be joined by staff from three of our member institutions:

And finally, our advisors, who bring a wide range of experience and knowledge and will help us make sure we build stuff for the long term:

Kick-off? Done.

We’re about to have our first all-hands meeting, although in late January we took advantage of Dietrich’s short visit to London to hold our first face-to-face workshop. 

Jenn, Ewa, George, Alex, Stef, and Dietrich (the photographer) at our kick-off

Jenn, Ewa, George, Alex, Stef, and Dietrich (the photographer) at our kick-off at HQ

Over coffee and sugary snacks, we spent two days exploring decentralized storage and how it could be applied to archiving digital content, and thinking through a possible schema for the data in a data lifeboat. 

Emerging questions

Many, many (#many) questions arose (for which we currently have no answers), for example:

  • Is a Data Lifeboat launched in response to an emergency or as part of regular housekeeping?
  • What must a Data Lifeboat contain? Could it initially just be a manifest and the images (which are large and expensive to process) are added later?
  • Who decides what is in (and out) of a Data Lifeboat and to what extent should it feel like an active selection?
  • Where are the ‘edges’ of the network surrounding a Flickr photo, and what is a holistic archive?
  • What existing digital asset management formats could (should) a Data Lifeboat be consistent with for it to be ‘docked’ successfully?

We were also very pleasantly surprised by the power of our lifeboat metaphor and how far we could stretch it to help coordinate our thinking! And thanks again to Dietrich for sharing time with us to crack the project open.

Next steps

Next up is our first all-hands meeting to bring the whole project team up to speed with the plan. That’ll be followed by a deep dive review of digital asset management systems in cultural institutions and a survey of the legal rocks that a Data Lifeboat may encounter. We think that will give us enough to allow us to define some high level requirements for the prototypes so that the development proper can start towards the end of the month.

Somewhere among all that we’re also planning a team expedition to a lifeboat museum to learn more about how lifeboats work in the physical world, but more about that in another blog post…


This work is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

NEH logo

Welcome, Susan!

Introducing Susan Mernit, Our New Development Lead

Hello, Flickr family and friends! I’m Susan Mernit, stepping into the role of Development Lead for the Flickr Foundation. My journey with Flickr began in 2004, the vibrant early days of digital photography. With nearly 5,000 snapshots—capturing everything from adventurous trips to China, Korea, and Peru to countless moments at tech gatherings—Flickr has been my digital photo album. Reflecting on those days, it’s not only the images that resonate, it’s the stories they tell and the community they’ve fostered.

Before joining this brilliant team, I led as Executive Director at The Crucible in Oakland, California, an innovative hub for artisan arts, and co-founded Hack the Hood, a nonprofit that helps low-income youth of color build skills for tech careers. My very first full-time job was as a community manager at a poetry organization, and I worked my way through college in the library.  With a history in the tech world—including time at Yahoo that overlapped with the Flickr acquisition—my career has been shaped around community engagement, open-source,  and product innovation.

So what am I going to do exactly?

Working alongside George, our visionary Executive Director, my goal is clear: to ensure the Flickr Foundation secures the resources to turn our 100-year plan into a 100-year reality. From cultivating relationships with foundations and corporate partners to reaching out to our global community of individual supporters, my job is to help build a sustainable future for the Foundation.

Beyond my professional life, I find balance and strength in weightlifting, Iyengar yoga, and hiking around the SF Bay area.  I am a compulsive reader, enjoying literary fiction, biographies, and books about tech, economics, and business.  My most used app on my phone is a US library platform called Libby. I welcome recommendations for great reads—let me know when you have one.