The impact of images in communities

“Thing 5″ for the MSc module Theory and evaluation of eLearning:

The Impact of Images

I like bikes, but if I waxed lyrical in pros and verse about why this is so, even to a bike enthusiast (in fact probably especially to a bike enthusiast), it would be unlikely to have the same impact as an image…

This is what I ride:

Picture of a red BMW R1100RSOver 40 years before I finally addressed my mid-life crisis my father also had a bike, but for him it was primarily for transport rather than a hobby. Again I could reminisce about how much more basic, even raw, the biking experience must have been. I could even use emotional notions as “those romantic early post war years when life in the country side was care free and full of simple pleasures”, but just look at this…

An old picture of an Ariel motorcycle

These pictures, taken by my mother during courtship, convey so much more than words, and would allow me to quickly identify whether I would be interested in what the writer has to say.

Building Communities

For me the information in an image provides immediate accessibility to the likely interest of the subject matter, or even the values of a writer or on-line community. Check out these blogs, both of which consistently use images to good effect:

What DL is happening?
Zaid Learn

Flickr provides three main tools for discovering, building and maintaining communities:


Searching on tags can be quickly refined using Flickr clusters, for instance the motorbike tag is used on many pictures that can be formed into sub-groups or clusters. This allows quick access to the larger groups of pictures, and therefore to people with a particular interest, for example Harley Davidsons.


Having identified people with similar interests through their pictures it is then possible to form or join groups where people share their pictures, and through the pictures and descriptions also share their experiences.


Once part of a group, if some members share particular interests they may enter a more direct correspondance through the mail system.

The above information is based in part on information from the following on-line documents:

Yahoo! UK Ltd (2011) Flickr Community Guidelines [Accessed 06-Feb-11]

Yahoo! UK Ltd (2011) Tips for running your group [Accessed 06-Feb-11]


About mark8n

Facilitator of Learning Technology adoption and integration. Dad, Granddad and Motorcyclist.
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3 Responses to The impact of images in communities

  1. ann harris says:

    I like bikes too. I had one in my twenties and also had a boyfriend with a combination which slightly defeated some of the advantages of bikes but was a great joy on an open road. Since then it’s been occasional pillion to a friend who glories in big bikes. We are planning a trip to the south coast this summer since I would rather travel when it isn’t raining . . . Your photographs reinforce the power of image which will also be significant when we look at semiotics in the next day school. In terms of community, how do we measure engagment and participation. As a fair weather biker might I fear being scorned or disparaged? Could I pretend to be something more than I am, claiming my friend’s bike as my own? Does it matter if I do?

    • mark8n says:

      I must admit I’ve toyed with the idea of having a modified on-line identity, but feel it would undermine my true identity. A more interesting prospect might be one or more alter-egos, maybe to test on-line approaches that I may not otherwise have considered. This does, however, go against my belief that honesty is simplicity and simplicity is elegant 🙂

      Why Honesty is the Best Policy for Simplicity

  2. Pingback: Thing 5 – Flickr « Adventures in eLearning

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