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Spotted gets a new framework

Submitted by yelvington on March 5, 2014 - 3:02pm

Back in the last decade we created a community photo-sharing platform called Spotted. The original idea was borrowed from a simple, successful content/marketing program at Cox Interactive Media, where I was executive editor at the turn of the century. We sent someone with a digital camera to an event with instructions to turn around and shoot the spectators, and hand out business cards. The resulting slideshows were huge traffic generators.

At Morris, this was merged with the "anyone can post" philosophy of Flickr and eventually implemented as a Morris DigitalWorks tool that became a commercial SAAS product.

All code ages as the world moves on, and Spotted was no exception. The platform wasn't designed to be easily retooled and the old-school fixed-layout design became a liability in an age of smartphones and tablets. Worse yet, the bulk uploader -- essential for volunteers who might have shot a couple of hundred images -- was a Java-based tool that appeared to have been abandoned by its developer and wouldn't work with updated Java engines. The original Spotted developers are long gone, as is Morris DigitalWorks, and we needed a replacement built on modern principles with an open API to support innovation.

So in their "spare time," Chris White of savannahnow.com and Craig Sims and Zach Hawkins of Morris Publishing Group have been putting together a replacement for Spotted, built on an image-handling system from Filemobile of Toronto, Canada. We'll be rolling it into production in the next week as we prepare for St. Patrick's Day in Savannah, the biggest event of the year. The expectation is that it will be rolled out to other Morris sites after a shakedown cruise.

The design is fluid and responsive, it works with phones and tablets, and -- importantly -- there is a lightning-fast drag/drop bulk uploader for our organized volunteer "Spotters" that relies on modern Javascript instead of clunky Java.

Ad inventory is dynamically selected based on the viewport size, and ads change when you page through a gallery. All that good stuff.

The world has changed, and photo-sharing is not the novelty it once was, so individuals posting photos no longer constitute a big opportunity. Nevertheless, we enable that and expect that we'll get an increase in "onezies and twozies" with a modern platform. The real untapped opportunity, though, is working with organizations. Last week we introduced the new platform to a room full of Girl Scouts who are learning digital photography, and we have more groups in the pipeline.