Content of every type disappears from the internet all the time. Most of the early work I did from the beginning of my career, for instance, has vanished into the digital aether, never to be seen again (but maybe that’s a good thing in some cases). The newly founded Flickr Foundation exists to help prevent important historical photos from suffering the same ill fate as our MySpace photos.
This week, Flickr and its parent company SmugMug announced the formation of the Flickr Foundation, a 501(c) organization designed to keep images from programs like the Flickr Commons available for a century or more. The Commons started back in 2008 as a collaborative effort with the Library of Congress to make publicly held photography collections readily available online for people seeking them out. It’s a massive, eclectic, fascinating archive that pulls images and content from around the world. This new organization hopes to integrate more partners and ensure that everything remains available and easily accessible.
Flickr tapped George Oates, a former employee who was instrumental in developing The Commons, to lead up the program, which already has several employees and a board of directors. According to the announcement, this new organization has been in the works since roughly 2020.
If you’re not already familiar with The Commons, it’s a really fascinating online resource. It grants access to everything from historical portraits to scientific images and everything in between. It’s easy to get lost in the sheer volume of images available on the site, but Flickr relies on curators in order to bring notable images to the forefront and keep things organized and available.
With the establishment of the new foundation, Flickr hopes that it can keep this archive running to 2122 and beyond. It will doubtlessly add countless more images along the way. We love to see any effort to keep notable photography from disappearing, especially in a situation like this, in which it remains largely available to the public at no cost.