Instagram: Is it for you?

Instagram is a photography app for iPhone. Mashable recently wrote Is Instagram the Next Distribution Opportunity for News Media?, which included an interview with Andy Carvin, a senior strategist at National Public Radio (NPR).

Carvin talked about how NPR is using Instagram to connect with photographers. There’s an NPR Tumblr blog where photos from people around the world are displayed, some of them coming in via Instagram.

After the Mashable article appeared, @rafatali claimed on Twitter that creating a distribution scheme based on Instragram was lame. Carvin countered that NPR was looking to connect with great photos and photographers, and kicking the tires of Instagram was a way to get there.

@rafatali: What’s so lame about it? We’re just kicking the tires and seeing if we can gin up anything interesting there. cc @mathewiMon Jan 03 19:07:31 via TweetDeck

Mashable likes Instagram. When they first reviewed it, Jennifer Van Grove called it a genius idea. She said it turned photos into social works of art.

I like Instagram, too. I was so struck by it that I included it in this post: New Tech Toys for your Blog or Browser and iPhone. I’m not convinced that an iPhone app is ready to create a new media distribution channel, but I’m open to conversion, particularly if the app gets ported to Android and BlackBerry soon.

What is Instagram?

Instagram is a free iPhone app that uses filters to make your photos more artistic. Use it to take a photo, run it through any of the eleven current filters, and send it to any or all of Twitter, Facebook, Posterous, Tumblr, Foursquare and Flickr with one click. In The words “free” and “amazing” are together way too rarely for my tastes, Metalia praised Instagram’s “easy-ass interface and gorgeous filters.”

Here’s a fern that sits behind my desk. I used the Toaster filter on the photo. Seconds after I took it, you could see it on Twitter, Flickr and Instagram on the web. Anyone who saw it on Instagram’s web page could tweet it or share it on Facebook.

But Instagram is a phone app, so the real action takes place there, not on a web page. In the app, you can see popular photos, as in this screen shot.

While in the app, you can view all your photos, find friends and look at their photos, or follow people. Users can comment on photos within Instagram. It sounds a little like Flickr, doesn’t it? But this is all done through your phone, where Flickr often exhibits high quality camera-based photos.

Should you be using it?

For bloggers with Posterous or Tumblr blogs, Instagram is be a no-brainer method of getting photos posted. Right now that only applies to iPhone users. Blurbed is using it on a Tumblr blog. It isn’t restricted to Posterous and Tumblr. Notes from the Trenches is using it on her blog. And My Little Life is using it on a Blogger blog.

There are two missing bits in this app, which I think will be coming eventually with the app’s increasing popularity. The first missing piece is making the app available on Adroid and BlackBerry.

The other missing piece is to let users of WordPress, Blogger, and other blogging tools post the images directly to those blogs, too. It’s a two step process for those blog platforms now. For example, the screen shot of popular Instagram photos is one I took and sent to Flickr with Instagram so I could use it here. Once it was on Flickr, I grabbed the HTML to post it here. Two steps aren’t horribly taxing, but one easy step will mean wider adoption for the app.

For those of you who’ve already tried it, tell us what you think of the app. For those who have not, do you plan to try it?

Cross-posted on BlogHer.

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