Instagram has emerged as the innovative platform that allows all kinds of people to flourish through the means of photography and to a lesser degree videography. With its primary goal of allowing people to share photography to the masses, it has exploded into a platform that used universally to share photos.
There are four sections, section one goes through the overview of Instagram and how it functions, sections two will go through the history of Instagram and the issues that have come along with it. Section Three will talk about the business model of Instagram and how it turns a profit it will also talk about the internet ecology and how it fits into the ecosystem. Section Four will talk about the changes and contributions it has to changing the Internet landscape.
What Is Instagram?
Instagram is a mobile application that allows the user to mass share photos and videos to a lesser degree to a public platform or as Instagram describes themselves as “[sic] a simple way to capture and share the world’s moments”. The platform provides the user a public/private platform to upload photos and videos for other users to appreciate and enjoy photography and videography. Instagram is part of the greater social network of Facebook who created a social network that is relevant to today’s society and culture. The company Instagram Inc was an acquisition in 2012 for Facebook to further reach out and expand. Instagram Inc’s are based not too far away from Facebook’s Main Headquarters campus as of 2018.
History of Instagram
Instagram was the creation of Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger where it originally was a check in location project called Burbn but as development went on, it became too close to another product so they pivoted the original project to be more around photo sharing.
Fun fact the name Instagram comes from the two words Instant and Telegram.
Instagram was released 6th of October 2010 to the IPhone 4 and there were 25,000 signups on the first day. As time went on and as people started picking up the application to share photos to a public space. As 2012 rolls around Instagram at that point had over 30 million users so within a year the number of members exploded, and to add more users to the mix, the android version of the application was released on the 3rd of April 2012 where the application was downloaded more than a million times in one day. 6 days later the Instagram announced they were acquired by Facebook for $1 billion dollars.
With Facebook’s acquisition the application user count went into the stratosphere with 100 million users in 2013 and 500 million users in 2016 and 1 billion users worldwide in 2018. Video uploads to Instagram was made available in 2012 but as 1 minute length videos. Instagram Stories was introduced in 2016 which was more for videos/photos that were made for a less permanent fixture, these posts on instagram stories would last 24 hours before they were removed. 2018 they introduced Instagram TV which is a function of Instagram that allows users to upload videos in longer format (longer than a minute), albeit in a vertical format.
Internet Ecology and Business Model
As with all social media platforms, Instagram is a considered freeware and there is both a service and an application provided by Instagram/Facebook and the Business model when it comes to Instagram is primarily focused on advertising revenue both from major business and from other users that pay for a sponsorship of their post.
Though this wasn’t the case in before 2013 where the application was completely advertisement and promotional free. With the growth of Instagram and the number of monthly users the revenue from advertising and account promotion increased the profits of the company.
As for Internet ecology, Instagram is the figurehead of photo and image sharing today as they have built a platform based on the user base where they have the majority in market share for users.
Some competitors when it comes to Instagram’s market is Snapchat, Vero and even Instagram’s owner Facebook, Snapchat is more focused on image sharing, which is similar to Instagram Stories in the functionality where the user sends a picture to a public space or to an individual and it expires either after 24 hours if posted publicly, or after the individual user has viewed the individual photo and closed it. The 24 hour expiry functionality is what is found on Facebook with their Stories component. Vero on the other hand is more of a photo and video sharing application, with their goal of being advertisement and algorithm free but that comes with a catch, as it requires a subscription fee to have access to the social network. Pinterest can also be considered a competitor to Instagram as it is sharing of photos being uploaded to a public platform and shared amongst people. Facebook also has the ability to upload and share photos like Instagram but Facebook is considered more personal and the pictures that are being shared tend to be shared amongst private groups and tight knit social circles but can offer the ability to have the photos displayed publically like Instagram.
With the release of Instagram TV earlier this year, it has found more competitors in the video scene, Youtube, Vimeo, Dailymotion are some of the competitors Instagram TV has found. Youtube being the juggernaut has always had the ability to upload long format videos, and predates Instagram by five years, Vimeo and Dailymotion all do the same thing, owned by different companies, Youtube is currently owned by Google (acquired 2006) and in turn Google is a Subsidiary of Alphabet Inc. Vimeo is a subsidiary of IAC and Dailymotion is a joint venture who is primarily owned by the French media giant Vivendi.
As for the Core Suppliers, that is the user base. The user base is the sources of social interaction, the source of social media, the source of all the photos and videos that is uploaded to Instagram. This can be individual users, Internet influencers, companies, any user that is contributing to the photos and videos can be considered a Core Supplier.
Here is the ecology map for Instagram
Instagram changed the way we use the Internet? The way we perceive the Internet?
Instagram is a sharing image platform, as we know but has it affect us psychologically? That is something that the American Psychology Association has put out with their paper “Let Me Take a Selfie”: Associations Between Self-Photography, Narcissism, and Self-Esteem which addresses the culture of selfies and the psychological link to narcissism and self esteem. The report states that “individuals with narcissistic tendencies may be more apt than others to post selfies on social media”. The report demonstrates that selfie posting based on what type of selfie can demonstrate the type of character that the person is and that “Affiliation
Selfies were negatively correlated with grandiose narcissism”, Affiliation selfies are selfies taken with other people. The public nature of Instagram might be catering to those people and increasing narcissism within societal culture.
It might not be all about narcissism within culture, as Instagram being one of the major platforms has contributed and evolved creative culture, by making it globalised and making an economical significance in this modern age of global connections. As stated in by Terry Flew in the book New Media published by Oxford, the “creative industries sectors as being worth £112 billion to the UK economy in 1997, accounting for 5%…. More recent data indicates that they now account for 8% to 9% of employment and GDP” and the “digital convergence for bringing together the media and communication, cultural content and information technology sectors, and the turn towards user-created content and the blurring of producer and consumer divides”. Platforms like Instagram allows a globalised platform and allowing the economical contribution no longer tied to a country and can make economical gain a global one.
Tying in with the globalisation of economics, platforms like Instagram lower the barrier to creative culture and allows the creative culture to be a more participatory. Terry Flew in the book New Media lays out the three main points of alternate media that Instagram can be identified with,
- De-Professionalism: the capacity to write, publish and distribute news, ideas and comments, not contingent upon the acquisition of a set professional skills, values and norms that render a potential contributor qualified to disseminate such material
- De-Institutionalisation: The ability to get … alternative perspectives on news events, alternative music and so on into the public domain.
- De-Capitalisation: The willingness to distribute media in all forms, through mechanisms that require low up front investments and low recurrent costs…..
The three points allows any person to participate in creative culture but the last one is the main driving factor, as production of traditional media is very expensive and a public space where an upfront cost is significantly or completely removed allows people to participate and contribute. In the case of Instagram, post to a public platform both photo and video
Overall Instagram has come along way from its beginnings in 2010 and has changed the landscape of how we do things in the creative arts. It has open the door for a lot of positives, when it comes to the evolution of how we do things, create media, and contribute to culture. Instagram has evolved how we share photos and convey creative arts as it allowed a public platform where people can contribute to the arts but also contribute economically via the creative arts. The barrier of entry is reduced and allows more people to contribute to the creative arts but as creative arts is very much a subjective thing, only the subjectively the best float to the top.
All pictures were created just for this assignment or were taken by me at a previous date. Instagram account in the pictures is mine.
Panasonic Lumix G85
Panasonic Lumix G 25mm f1.7
Varies but mostly f1.7 as lighting conditions changed based on when the photo was taken.
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