Tech comes, tech goes

Posted by Debby on 20th April and posted in Cool Tech

I guess that’s the nature of the beast, eh? One of my favorite sites closed up shop last night at midnight. I used it almost daily over the past several years for major and minor photo editing. It was perfect for doing quick edits on screen shots that I sent to students or used on class websites. It was easy enough that my computer literacy students learned how to edit their own pictures – a major accomplishment for newbies. It was sophisticated enough that you could do some really cool things with it. It was intuitive enough that you didn’t have to spend a lot of time figuring things out. You just got in there, had some fun, and got out. The interface was well designed and had nifty little widgets like a loading bar that said things like “packing the basket, buttering toast, watching butterflies, smelling the flowers…” What a cool metaphor!

When it was first announced that Picnik.com was closing it’s doors on April 19th, there was quite a bit of shock. Folks were worried when Google acquired the site, and the announcement realized our worst fears. Between January 20th and February 8th there were almost 2,000 comments before the Picnik guys closed down the thread. People ranted against Google. People raved about Picnik. “Real photographers” made fun of the “fauxtogs” who were making a living impersonating “real photographers” and were crying because they couldn’t figure out how to use the power tools like Photoshop. There were comments from little old ladies who wanted to edit pics of their grandkids and from teachers (like me) who used it with their students. Some folks complained that their premium account hadn’t been refunded as promised and wanted to know what to do. Others simply expressed sadness and disappointment that another web site was getting sucked in by the Google. We all knew it was useless, but we all had our say anyhow.

Of course, the hunt was on for another site that was easy to use when all you really needed to do was crop a picture and add a drop shadow. I have Fireworks (the last Macromedia version – just can’t give that up!) and I know how to use the basics, but sometimes you don’t want to wait for a program to load. You just want to click and edit, upload to Flickr or Facebook, and be on your way. Being able to play with some other bells & whistles would be cool also. I found several other sites and tried them all:

None of them caught my fancy the way Picnik had done. None of them had the interface features that Picnik had. I mean, seriously, I got a kick out of watching that flash loader every time. Who could resist bumblebees buzzing or clouds floating by or ants walking off with the basket? I was determined to keep using Picnik until I could use it no more. That is, until one day I noticed something new on the Picnik splash page. A link to “recommended” site called PicMonkey.com. Hmmm… this sounded interesting…

… and the site was sort of cute (ok, so I know that’s not really a good reason, but it has to be visually appealing or people won’t stick around!). It has lots of features, lots of filters, and oh, by the way, it’s fun. I think I’ve found a new home! It doesn’t have some of the features I really liked, like the capability to connect with Flickr, Facebook, and a dozen other media sites. But, it has potential. I got curious, because it looked oh so similar to the interface I had grown to love at Picnik, so I checked out the About page. That’s where I found a story about a couple of former Picnik engineers, a rabbi, and a monkey. Hmmm…

I’ll miss Picnik, but the nature of technology is change. Sometimes change is slow, and sometimes change is lightening fast, but as contradictory as it sounds, change is the only constant. You either get good at adapting or you get left behind. I guess that’s one of the reasons I focus so much on concepts in my computer classes. It doesn’t matter what specific software you are learning today, next year (or next week or tomorrow) a new version will come out and you’ll have to learn it all over again. Unless, that is, you understand the underlying concepts of how it all works, and you understand how to find out what you need to know to make it work. If you learn how to learn, there isn’t much that will throw you off your game, no matter how much things might change. So for now, I’ll say a fond farewell to Picnik! I hope your creators cashed out big and are on to new adventures! I know at least two of them are 😀

Picnik’s Last Day

The Picnik is Over!

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