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The Evolution of Flickr

Adaptive Path has published an interview with Eric Costello, client development lead for Flickr. It's an excellent history of Flickr's evolution and contains many lessons for anyone building Web services:

Jesse James Garrett: So you almost accidentally ended up in this position where you find yourself competing with personal publishing tools like Blogger and LiveJournal. How much of Flickr's evolution do you think was driven by this kind of accidental discovery?

Eric Costello: Accidental is probably not the right term -- I'd call it "fortuitous." There are a lot of bright people on the Flickr team who have great ideas that have influenced our direction. But we also have a very agile development process. We deploy code to the site maybe 10 times a day on a busy day. And we're constantly adding new features, small and large, even though lately it’s been relatively small features, sadly.

But because we're quick to develop and deploy new things, and because we have a talkative bunch of users and a lot of places for them to talk to us, we can quickly assimilate suggestions from the community. We can build a feature and deploy it sometimes within a week of hearing a feature request.

So it's not accidental, but most of Flickr has not undergone a lot of extensive planning. We’re kind of rolling with the punches, which makes it fun. And I think that makes it fun for the users, too.

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