The problem is that, so far, very little of this media-sharing is automatic or hitch-free. In an ideal world, I could snap a photo, give it a title or description, and be done with it. My camera phone would upload the photo to the proper media-sharing site behind the scenes. The site would send out automatic alerts to my friends, and would automatically download a copy of the photo to my PC, so it would be waiting there when I got home.
But with Vizrea and the other sharing services, each of these steps must be initiated manually. To transfer a picture I’ve just taken to Vizrea’s site, I have to close the phone’s camera application, open the Vizrea application, type in a password, select the data network I want to use, find my photo, choose the upload option, type a title, and target the picture to a specific collection. That’s not what I call seamless.
Adding to the frustration, several of Vizrea’s features didn’t seem to work as advertised. Sometimes I couldn’t log into the service from the phone. Using the phone or Web interfaces, it is possible to send e-mail or SMS invitations to friends to view your recently uploaded files. But my messages often never arrived on my friends’ phones, and when one friend clicked on the link in a Vizrea e-mail invitation, his computer crashed.
Some of those bugs can be chalked up to the fact that Vizrea’s service is still in its infancy; most software companies would stick the “beta” label on a product in this phase. The rest probably reflect the inherent difficulty of making four very different technologies–media recording and playback devices, wireless data networks, Web services, and PCs–work together. Our information infrastructure wasn’t developed to support “infoclouds,” and making the vision real is inevitably a big kludge.
But in the not-quite-ready-for-the-average-Joe category, Vizrea has plenty of company. None of the other media-sharing systems I’ve tried, such as Wallop, Vox, or Flickr, make the uploading and sharing process one-click simple or wholly automatic.
What we desperately need–and what Vizrea and its competitors are still struggling toward–are common technology standards and simplified software interfaces that overcome the differences between our info-gadgets and make content-sharing as easy as snapping a picture or placing a phone call.