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My 30 year old dream...now called GreatAlbum 

Submitted by Erik on Sun, 06/28/2020 - 02:40
Erik's personal albums
The albums I made in my 20s & 30s


For over thirty years, I have been obsessed with collecting “artifacts'' about my life experiences and those of my family members, especially my ancestors. Since at least high school, I’ve always felt someday I would create the platform to share all these photos, videos and documents with others, hopefully in the format of rich, multi-media stories. In my 20s, I made 20-30 albums from pictures, ribbons certificates and other things I had collected so far. About the time I turned 30, this interest intensified as it became connected to a new interest in genealogy. I discovered one of my dad’s cousins had built a family tree in Family Tree Maker software, and one of his brothers had done a bunch of research, collected lots of family artifacts and taken lots of detailed notes about them. I actually took a week of vacation in 1997 to fly from Boston to visit my “Aunt Mary Lynn” in Minnesota, to go over her family tree, and to visit my “Uncle Mike” in Sandusky, Ohio, and “borrow” a box full of these family heirlooms.  Since that time, I’ve continued to collect photos and documents, not just of my nuclear family, but of many other family members as well.

Rediscovering Family Artifacts

I remember when my Grandma Webb died. Her kids, my aunts and uncles, were sitting around the table, telling stories about her and their life growing up together. One of them turned to me and said, “Erik, don’t you have a lot of pictures and other stuff scanned in your digital archive?” I said in fact I did, and in no time we were going through hundreds of these items in my Dropbox folder structure. I told them someday I would have a platform that made it easy to share these precious moments and to capture the stories that really brought these to life!” 

Tony Robbins DWD 2019Explosion in the Digital Era

My obsession has taken on new dimensions with the explosion of digital media, thanks to smart/camera phones. I now have over 150,000 photos, videos and scanned documents. I have the photos/videos in Google Photos, and I've created 1500 albums, but that still only scratches the surface. I'm sure many people can relate to my feeling of being overwhelmed by it all. It's hard to go back and find media for specific events, even with the date/location/facial tagging that Google does to the media. 

Multiple Starts

Since 2001, I’ve tried three different times to get a prototype off the ground to address these challenges, but always tried to do it myself and never had enough talent to make it fly. Finally, while attending Tony Robbins’ Date with Destiny event in December 2019, I realized this dream was too important to postpone any longer. I decided then and there I was going to build a team and turn this dream into a reality.

What's In A Name?

I decided to call the app GreatAlbum, because the idea is that all content will be organized into Albums, which can contain events, stories, media, places, individuals and discussions. Albums enable users to maintain privacy based on memberships, and events become like sub-albums with media, stories, places and individuals attached to them. And Great means this is a really great idea/application, but also because through it you will learn more about your Great Grandparents, your Great Great Grandparents, and many other loved ones in your life and family history. 

Three-Part Mission

As I've dived into this project, I've discovered this dream has actually turned into a 3-part mission: (1) build the GreatAlbum App, as I've long dreamed, (2) harness the power of the Drupal community for its development and give back to that community as we create breakthroughs, and (3) create a new community support model that could be powerful for GreatAlbum and other companies/products/services. Read more about this at 3-Part Mission for GreatAlbum.

Pervasive Theme

Now, it feels like every other day I encounter people who really wish they had something like this to celebrate the lives of loved ones. They almost never say it that way, because they don’t know that something like this exists, but I can tell how much they want to celebrate and appreciate someone, and when I tell them about GreatAlbum, they say, “That sounds amazing. How can I join?” Very soon, they will be able to. And you will be able to as well! 


The 3-Part Mission of GreatAlbum

Submitted by Erik on Sun, 07/05/2020 - 03:37

When I started to entertain my dream of creating the GreatAlbum application, I always knew there were two missions that were important: 

1. Community Content Development
2. Community Application Development

In the process of building GreatAlbum, we had to think about how we would support the users of the app. We looked at a lot of traditional customer service applications, like Jira Service Desk, Zendesk, Zoho, etc. The problem was that with all of them, the model was to have a small number of customer service people providing all the support to end users. That didn’t feel right. As a result, we created a third mission for GreatAlbum:

3. Community Customer Support


Below are deeper explanations of each mission...

Community customer service1. Community Content Development 

Great would be a different kind of platform from any other I have ever seen, incorporating what I felt were the most important parts of family tree content management and multimedia management, with a focus on creating rich stories about loved ones. It would leverage the power of community to collaboratively create content and celebrate to celebrate the lives of people that content highlights. This means:

  • Albums have members, like traditional photo albums
  • But Albums would contain more than just media( photos/videos). They could also contain Events, Stories, Individuals, Places and Discussions.
  • Those content types would be interlinked, so an Event could have lots of media linked to it as well as stories written by different people, a Place where it happened, Individuals tagged who were there, and related Discussion threads.
  • Each Event would essentially act like a sub-album, only much better, and you would have to share it for others to see it, because it's already part of the larger Album.
  • Similarly Stories can be linked to Events, Individuals, Places, Media, Discussions
  • And Media can be linked to Events, Stories, Individuals, Places, Media, Discussions

In this way, you get a much better feel for the true nature of the relationships that exist between these content types, allowing you to tell more robust stories and explore the content more thoroughly. To learn more about this, see What is GreatAlbum? How is it Different?


Community App Dev2. Community Application Development 

GreatAlbum would also leverage the power of community in how the app is built. This means:

  • Building it on an open source platform, so that 80% of the functionality comes from others who have already done that heavy lifting. The GreatAlbum team would create the 20% the no one else has ever done before, which makes GreatAlbum unique and special. 

  • Making GreatAlbum app available as an open source download, so that technical people using it can also tinker with it and offer technical suggestions on how to improve it (even technical patches to the code).

  • Where the GreatAlbum team makes improvements to existing modules, offer those as patches back to those module maintainers, so they can consider accepting the improvements.

  • Where the GreatAlbum team is able to create new modules that serve our purposes and can also be generalize to be useful to others on their websites, then we will offer those as new modules to the development community and become the maintainers of them.

To accomplish #2, we chose the Drupal content management system. For more on this, see Why we built GreatAlbum on Drupal?


Community customer service3. Community Customer Support

GreatAlbum would provide a community support model, just like you get with open source communities like Drupal. The GreatAlbum team would provide the foundation of support, and more importantly, our users to be able to help each other. That approach would be much more scalable and it would reinforce the sense of community, not only in sharing content with members of your Albums, but also in helping other users with how they do the same with their own albums, even when you aren’t a member of their albums and can’t see their content. As a result, GreatSupport was born, which is a community support site for GreatAlbum and could become a model for other companies. 

To learn more about this, see How GreatSupport provides community support for GreatAlbum.

What is GreatAlbum? How it is Different?

Submitted by Erik on Sun, 07/12/2020 - 02:00

Genealogy treeTwo of the most popular, revenue-generating hobbies for individuals and families - on and off the internet - are genealogy and family photography/social media. 

Genealogy is primarily focused on finding new family members, and documenting/proving key life events, like birth, death, marriage, & divorce, with citations to prove those "facts". Lately, the big push has been on DNA testing to help you find even more family members and learn more about "where you come from." The problem with this is it's focused on "data," with limited support for social media or stories about the individuals/families in your family tree.

Social media mobile iconsPhotography for decades was shared by creating photo albums with physical prints, and when mixed with non-photo media like invitations and certificates, was the art called scrapbooking. With the advent of camera phones,  Facebook and other social media services, the focus has shifted to sharing digital photos in personal streams, or perhaps in groups. The problem with this is people amass a ton of photos and posts when sharing them with friends, but practically no means of organizing them, other than albums or user tagging. How do you go back and find pictures of your child's birthday ten years ago in an ocean of thousands of digital photos?

Photo Services like Flickr, Apple iCloud Photos and Google Photos do provide improved organization with albums, facial, geo & other meta tagging, but each album generally corresponds to an event, which means lots of albums and lots of repeated sharing with the same people that you have to specify over and over again. Albums contain only photos/videos - not other kinds of media. And the facial tagging is tied to each person's private set of contacts. This still results in many isolated albums with limited organization.

Huge gaps still remain with all of these solutions. None of them provide the ability (or encouragement) to tell thoughtful stories about the major events in our lives, nor the intuitive connections between Events, Stories, Media, Places and Individuals. 

This is where GreatAlbum comes in. This is the realization of a dream that I've had since at least 2000. The vision is that GreatAlbum will become the preeminent site/app for people to tell rich stories about the events in their lives and the lives of their loves ones. Millions of members will use it not only to commemorate the lives of their ancestors, but to  archive their social media content and organize it intuitively for future reference.

For the sake of security, and sanity, all content is organized into Albums. Here are four good examples of the kinds of albums that will exist:

  • Celebration Album – Tell the story of a lifetime 
    When someone is reaching a major milestone, like a wedding or big birthday or death, bring family & friends together to tells stories about how that person has touched their lives.
  • Core Family Album – Capture the moments in real-time
    Import and create "smart organization" around digital pictures you're taking with your Smartphones and backing up to Google or iCloud; share seamlessly with close family & friends.
  • Family Tree Album – It’s like LinkedIn for families
    Import/build your family tree with all the usual genealogy information, but go beyond that to capture & share the events in the lives of family members and the stories about why those events were so meaningful, with social media linked in. 
  • Alumni Album – Remember good times & catch up 
    For high school, college, work & other groups that want to reminisce about the gold old times, and also want to keep up with each other’s lives over the years.


GreatAlbum Content Structure

With GreatAlbum, organizing and sharing features are separated. Events are the main way to organize. An Event can have Media, Stories, Individuals and Places tagged to it. And the event can belong to one or more Albums, which is how content is shared.

An Album has Members, just like a Google Photo Album or a Facebook Group. Each time a new event and related content is added to the album, the members are notified and can enjoy it immediately. The "owner" of the event content doesn't have to decide who to share it with, since that's already determined at the Album level. And members of the album can share their own content/media as well for each event, fostering collaborative storytelling around shared life experiences.

Overlapping albums


Eventually, you will be able to share content/media in multiple albums, so you could have one album to collect stories from friends to celebrate a major birthday, and then share that same content in one or more a Family Album, to enrich those albums, which contain different collections of content for different memberships. 


One final note - GreatAlbum actually doesn't compete with Flickr, Apple iCloud Photos or Google Photos. We realize that you will still want to keep your photos safe and secure in those locations, since you likely trust their long-term survival more than GreatAlbum. Instead, most of the time you will simply "import" them from those photo services, which means creating media instances in GreatAlbum for each photo/video, with meta data linking them to Albums, Events, Stories, Individuals & Places, while the actual media files still remain in those services. TadaThen when you see the media displayed in GreatAlbum, it will be coming from your favorite photo service, where it is safe and sound! 

All of this is technically possible today. The trick is to figure out how to do it while minimizing the complexity of the user experience. This is part of the dream that GreatAlbum aims to make a reality!

Why we built GreatAlbum on Drupal

Submitted by Erik on Sat, 07/18/2020 - 22:10

When I joined the Reunion Organizing Committee for my high school class, for our 20th reunion in 2006, I thought it would be cool to organize it on a website. WordPress v Joomla v DrupalKeep in mind, this was only two years after Facebook had launched, and a few months before it was available to the general public (not requiring a .edu email address), so that wasn't an option. I spent a week researching open source content management systems, narrowed it down to the top three - WordPress, Drupal and Joomla!, and ultimately decided upon Drupal - I think version 4.6 at the time. While I recognized that it wasn't quite as widespread as WordPress, and more complicated to learn, I liked that it seemed to have the most robust capabilities of the three. Thus began my journey with Drupal that has now spanned nearly 15 years and almost as many websites - typically as charitable hobbies for nonprofit organizations. 

ColdFusionSeparately, the journey to build GreatAlbum started in 2001, when I tried my first attempt at building a prototype. I had gone to a Macromedia ColdFusion workshop and won a give-away copy of ColdFusion. I was so excited and took it as an omen I should give it a try. I built that first prototype with my brother, using ColdFusion Markup Language and the Fusebox Application Framework. We learned some good insights, but ultimately didn't get too far. 

PhpGedView exampleAbout ten years later, I wanted to take my Webb family tree information that I had gathered with the help of a few relatives and create a collaborative genealogy environment, with all the types of content I envisioned, though in more of a genealogy format. Around 2010 I implemented my own version of PhpGedView with family trees for Webb, Britt, McCain & Iredale families. This was really cool and did get some traction, but was still too centered on Genealogy. 

So, I continued to think about other options. Then in 2019, I spent a few months exploring how I might integrate WebTrees (successor to PhGedView) and Drupal together, to have the genealogy aspects together with robust content management. The more I explored, the more complicated it seemed.

So I ditched that idea and decided to go just with Drupal. As I turned to that focus, I came across the post for a Functional Drupal 7 Family History Website, which led me to https://ancestry.sandes.uk, developed by Mike Sandes. Some great coaching by Mike led to a new prototype of GreatAlbum, based on Drupal 7, using Organic Groups to represent Albums. We spent several months building out a pretty comprehensive website with the full complement of genealogy entities - Individuals, Names, Families, Events, Stories, Places, Notes, Citations, Sources,  & Repositories. That was fun, and we learned a lot, but it was way too complicated. It was also not viable to build on Drupal 7, which was scheduled to go end of life in November 2021, nor to use Organic Groups, which doesn't have a stable release for Drupal 8. 

After this long, circuitous journey, we finally landed on building GreatAlbum using Drupal 8 based on PHP. There are a lot of other open source technologies and frameworks we could have chosen. A lot of people told me I was better off going with NodeJS, based on JavaScript (#1 most popular language) or Django based on Python (2nd most popular language as of 2019). While both of these are great options, I am convinced that the strength and maturity of the development community is just as important as the framework itself. Ever since I first chose to use Drupal in 2006, I've watched the Drupal Community grow to over 1 million developers, with over 44,000 modules, powering over 1 million websites, including many famous ones (see 67 Amazing Drupal Statistics & Facts)!

While it may be more challenging to build the GreatAlbum site on Drupal, I am convinced that the community will become invaluable when we open source the code and invite users/developers to contribute patches & improvements that will enable us to harness the power of many developers beyond our core team. Furthermore, as we develop unique and powerful features on GreatAlbum, we look forward to contributing those back to the Drupal community, so other developers can use them on their websites & applications.

React JSIn the future, we plan to explore "decoupling Drupal," which means we would continue to use Drupal on the backend and possibly use ReactJS on the front end - for both the browser-based app and native mobile app. More on that to come. 

How GreatSupport provides community support for GreatAlbum

Submitted by Erik on Sat, 07/25/2020 - 18:19

Community customer serviceAs mentioned in The 3-Part Mission of GreatAlbum, while we were in the process of building GreatAlbum, we had to think about how we would support the users of the app. We looked at a lot of traditional customer service applications, like Jira Service Desk, Zendesk, Zoho, etc. The problem was that with all of them, the model was to have a small number of people providing customer service to end users. That didn’t feel right.

As a result, we created GreatSupport (https://help.greatalbum.net), a stand-alone app (website for now) that enables a community support model, just like you get with open source communities like Drupal, WordPress and GitHub. The GreatAlbum team will provide the foundation of support, and more importantly, our users will help each other. That approach will be much more scalable, and it will reinforce the sense of community, not only in sharing content with members of your Albums, but also in helping other users with how they do the same with their own albums, even when you aren’t a member of their albums and can’t see their content. We think this could become a model for other companies. 

The way it works is that there are Guide Books on the site that assist with five major things overall: 

  1. How to use the GreatAlbum App
  2. How to use the GreatAlbum Help (ironically, help for how to use help)
  3. Personal stories about user/life experiences as a result of using GreatAlbum
  4. How to write stories and biographies
  5. How to research family history

Each Guide Book is comprised of four kinds of content:

  1. Topics - Kind of like chapters, describe major parts of functionality in the apps, or major topics in researching and writing
  2. Articles - Explain how to perform functions related to each topic
  3. Issues - Describe problems, bugs, suggestions, requested features related to the Topics and Articles
  4. Discussions - Conduct discussions related to Topics, Articles and Issues
  5. Releases - Coming soon...this describes new releases for GreatAlbum, GreatSupport and GreatHome.

There are three kinds of users who interact on the GreatSupport site:

  1. Anonymous - can view everything; can't create/comment on anything
  2. Authenticated Users - can create Articles, Issues and Discussions; can edit Articles/Issues; can comment on Discussions
  3. Support Managers - can create/edit/delete anything on the site

The reason that Authenticated Users can edit any Article or Issue, is because they are empowered to support other users, which means they can create or edit any Articles to make them better, and they can edit any Issue to help resolve it. 

Where is GreatAlbum?

Submitted by Erik on Sat, 08/01/2020 - 17:14

red question markYou might have noticed that all this wonderful functionality described in What is GreatAlbum doesn't appear on this site. So where is it? 

The Answer: The GreatAlbum prototype quietly under development in a hidden site. Upcoming plans include:

Private Beta - We will be launching a Private Beta program in November with a select number of users to try out both the GreatAlbum site and the Help site and give us qualitative feedback. We anticipate spending a 2-3 months in Private Beta, slowly growing the number of users to a few hundred as we work out all the kinks.

Public Beta - Then hopefully in January or February 2021 we'll go into a Public Beta, where anyone can create an account and start using the Apps. 

If you want to join the list of people interested in being a Beta user, then see our Beta page.

The Difficult Decision to Open Source

Submitted by Erik on Sun, 08/16/2020 - 03:03

open source swiss knifeBy the title, you would think I was talking about struggling with the decision to build GreatAlbum on open source software. Actually, that was a no brainer, as discussed in Why we built GreatAlbum on Drupal. Instead, I'm talking about the decision to be as open as possible about how we are building GreatAlbum, our journey, our mistakes, our lessons learned and our achievements.  This decision was inspired by a number of different reasons.

First, it's very much my style to be as transparent as I can. I tend to find that if people are truly interested in achieving success together, information enables them to understand what's working, what's not and how they can help each other to be more successful. 

GumroadThis was reinforced by an article I read recently, Reflecting on My Failure to Build a Billion-Dollar Company by Sahil Lavignia, Founder & CEO of Gumroad. This article is his story about how his side project became a VC-based start-up, grew for a year, then tanked and laid everyone off, and eventually became a lifestyle company. I love how in the end he discovered that it isn't all about "grow or die", and that part of his mission is to create more value than he captures in his revenue stream. One of those ways he's done that is to open up his financials. As a result, Founders starting their own companies have learned from his mistakes and utilized their data to make better decisions. This shift has also attracted new investors and strengthened Gumroad's engagement with its customers. 

This philosophy of transparency and authenticity creating much stronger connections to investor, lenders, partners and customers was also strongly reinforced when I recently read How I Built This book by Guy Raz. In numerous examples, Raz relates stories by founders that he's interviewed over the years about how they've solved tough problems and avoided losing their companies by being open, honest and authentic with their customers. He cites many compelling examples of this.

So, as my team here at GreatAlbum embarks on our journey of realizing my Dream, I want it to create value not only for our customers, but also for members of the Drupal community who can hopefully benefit from some of our innovations, much the way we have benefited from innovations like the Open-Core of OpenSocial. I also hope we can share insights that will benefit other founders who have to endure similar journeys on the way to launching their dreams. 


GreatAlbum Private Beta Launched!

Submitted by Erik on Fri, 11/06/2020 - 19:40

beta launchI've very excited to announce the launch of the Private Beta for GreatAlbum. We're calling it GreatAlbum v0.8.0. Why that version? Well, as mentioned in Where is GreatAlbum?, we're starting with Private Beta (v0.8), followed by Public Beta (v0.9) and then finally General Availability (v1.0).

I want to offer my huge thanks to the development team that has been at this most of the year - Angel, Ashley, Kevin, Negi, Sahana, Shilpa & Thomas. 

If you want to join the list of people interested in being a Beta user, then see our Beta page.


GreatAlbum Joins Pioneer App Community

Submitted by Erik on Mon, 12/07/2020 - 04:58

As I was reading through some blog posts by Daniel Gross, I stumbled up an app/community he helped build, called Pioneer. Pioneer is both an app and a community. It helps founders track progress, get advice, and get funded. In a nutshell, the way it works is members compete in the weekly Pioneer Tournament:

Step 1 - Join with your project

  • Register, fill out a profile about you as a person/founder
  • Fill in a detailed profile about your startup project or business

Step 2 - Compete in the Pioneer Tournament

  • Each week, there's a process that takes place
  • Sunday, submit a progress update on your project
  • Monday, it gets reviewed by 5-10 other Pioneer members who give feedback 
  • Tuesday, Leaderboards are updated with latest rankings; we each review feedback and rate the top three comments
  • Thursday, for a select group, participate in a leaders zoom call, where we break out in small groups to discuss challenges we're working through

Step 3 - Reach the Global Top 50

  • The goal is to become on of the top 50 players in the Pioneer Tournament
  • Of course, most don't achieve that, so they complete to be one of the top players on the regional leaderboards: US East, US West, Americas (Non-US), Europe, Africa, Asia & Oceania

Step 4 - Get selected by an expert to become a Pioneer

  • For Pioneers who are recognized as one of the top players, they occasionally receive the Pioneer Offer. For a 1% of your company, you receive access to a network of elite founders. a 2-month remote startup accelerator program, and a whole bunch of other perks

I've documented all my submissions so far, along with top feedback comments at GreatAlbum Involvement in Pioneer Community

How to Find a Technical Founder/CTO

Submitted by Erik on Wed, 12/16/2020 - 01:35

TechSpeak for EntrepreneursToday I attended a webinar on How to find a technical founder/CTO. It was hosted by Nelly Yusupova, a CTO with over 18 years experience, leading companies to technical excellence. She is a startup tech advisor, outsourced CTO, and the creator of TechSpeak for Entrepreneurs. The stated goal of the webinar was to learn:

  • Where to find a tech cofounder or CTO
  • How to build your tech network so you have a better chance of finding a tech cofounder or CTO
  • How to evaluate if someone would make a great CTO or tech co-founder
  • The strategy for building your MVP without a technical co-founder or CTO so you can attract them to your company

Overall, the webinar was worthwhile. She did share useful perspectives on the stated topics. She also pitched her online master class. As she explained, the class covers ten modules: 

  • Module 1: Validate & Refine the Idea
  • Module 2: Build an Interactive Prototype
  • Module 3: Create Technical Specifications
  • Module 4: Pick The Right Tools & Technologies
  • Module 5: Determine the Price and Budget & Define Your MVP
  • Module 6: Hire a Tech Team
  • Module 7: Design Your MVP
  • Module 8: Project Manage The Coding of the MVP
  • Module 9: Hosting, Security, and Scaling Techniques
  • Module 10: Refine product based on data

It was great to walk through this and understand her suggested approach to building a team and a minimum viable product (MVP), even if you're not technical, and in the process "earn" a technical cofounder/CTO. As she completed the overview of her masterclass, I was really happy to conclude that the journey of GreatAlbum so far has already reached Module 8 with our Private Beta Launch and is currently working on both Module 8 and 9 items as we stabilize and enhance the product, accept more users into the Private Beta and prepare for a Public Beta.

I'm there is still lots I could learn from masterclass, but for now I'm happy just to receive validation that we're on a good course. I'll continue to focus on optimizing the team, cultivating user engagement and pitching our vision to advisors and potential investors!


Presenting Sessions at NERD Summit 2021

Submitted by Erik on Mon, 01/11/2021 - 03:53

As part of cultivating a support network on my journey to build GreatAlbum, I've gotten involved with the New England Regional Developers (NERD) group over the past year. I attended NERD Summit 2020, where I got some great insights on a few topics relevant to GreatAlbum.

This year at NERD Summit 2021, while I expect to continue to learn from others, I also wanted to contribute something back to the community, which of course if it stimulates any interaction will also end up generating further insights for my team as well. I'm actually planning to present one session myself, and then have one of my team members co-present a second session, which will then continue into a Birds of a Feather Session on Day 2. Below are the session proposals, in case you're interested. I'll update this post with presentations once they're available. 

Proposed Session #1 - Non-Technical Founder's Approach to Agile Project Mgmt

Are you a non-technical Founder or Project Manager wondering how best to define the requirements and manage the development of a website or app? Attend this session to learn how one such non-technical Founder went about it - mistakes made, lessons learned, approach now being followed. A few highlights of the session:

  • Started on Backlog.com - tried to manage requirements & tasks in a simple issue tracker, discovered that didn’t work

  • Adopted Atlassian Confluence and Jira for knowledge and project mgmt

  • Adopted agile project mgmt, generally as described by Atlassian

  • Use Google Sheets to analyze distribution of tasks between team members, components, sprints, etc.

  • Key Take-Aways


Proposed Session #2 - Advanced Group & Media Functionality on a Drupal8 site

In this session, we’ll demonstrate how we have utilized advanced capabilities of Groups and Media in Drupal8 to build the GreatAlbum site.

Some key features we’ll review include:

  • Sending invites to non-site users via email and having them accept/register

  • Making media entities part of group content

  • Group view includes a stream of content/media

  • Group tabs, so show streams for each content type

  • Group Activities document creation and updates of content/media in the group

  • Google Photos integration - create media entities in the group based on Google Photo Albums

  • Enabling content/media to belong to more than one Group

  • View all your content/media across Groups

Features yet to implement

  • Open and Public Groups, to go along with the Private Groups initially implemented

  • Non Members can request to join a Group and be approved/denied

  • Share an Event and all its related content (Stories, Individuals, Place, Media) to another Group in one bulk operation

Drupal Tags

Why GreatAlbum is different from photo storage services

Submitted by Erik on Fri, 01/22/2021 - 02:33

photo sharing logosI was recently talking with another founder in the Pioneer community. He was questioning the viability of GreatAlbum and pointed me to the 2015 article Why every photo storage startup dies or gets acquired. Even though this article is six years old (a lifetime in high tech startup land), the situation is remarkably unchanged since then:

Apple’s Photo Stream is all but incomprehensible to me. Google’s photo product, while very good, is buried inside Google+. Amazon’s photo storage service, tied to Prime, is just getting started. Facebook’s service is designed more for sharing photos than for organizing them. Dropbox’s Carousel seems to exist for the sole purpose of helping people consume their Dropbox storage.

No wonder people keep building superior services: it’s impossible to store your photos with Apple, or Google, or Amazon, and not imagine you could do it better. And the need grows larger every day. Last year, trend forecaster Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins estimated that we upload 1.8 billion photos to the internet a day, up from 500 million the year before.

With this in mind, GreatAlbum aims not to compete with photo storage services (Apple, Google, Amazon, Flickr) or social media services (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter). Instead, our goal is to provide a value-added service on top of them. GreatAlbum assumes that you want to keep your photos in one of the major photo sharing services, where you have more trust in their future preservation. It imports the "metadata" from those photos (date, location, descriptions, etc.) and helps you organize them in ways that make it much easier to browse, share and enjoy your photos and videos. Two of the most common ways we envision this to happen are:

1. In an existing Album, for an event you are documenting, members can link their remote photos from Apple/Amazon/Google/etc. to a common structure of Event, with tagged Individuals and Place, and even write their own stories about how they experienced the event. 

2. You can authorize GreatAlbum to import hundreds or thousands of photos into a private album. GreatAlbum will then go through them all, look for patterns based on date, location and faces. It will then auto-create events, based on those patterns (such as 10 or more photos on a given date and location), and tag date, location and individuals who were present. You can then review/refine those events and share them, with their related media/content, in other albums where they belong, with specific memberships for their common interests.