Flickr Commons Power Feeds

Indicommons staff member and development maestro clickykbd has constructed a Yahoo! Pipe that lets people follow Flickr Commons uploads in ways that weren’t possible before. These are truly useful, visually stunning,and flexible feeds.



Flickr Commons Feed

Follow all Commons photos as they are uploaded. This wasn’t previously possible without subscribing to each Commons institution individually.

Flickr Commons Geo-Feed

Follow all geotagged Commons photos as they are uploaded, with short text descriptions.

This feed looks incredible on a Google Map!

Flickr Commons Tag-Feed

To configure the pipe to do something custom, go to the pipe URL:

From there you can add additional variables to narrow down the results the feed will provide. For example, try adding “portrait” to the “optional: tags” field, then running the pipe. You’ll see a slideshow of all photos in The Commons tagged “portrait”, and be presented with options to subscribe to the feed.

The Commons feed, tag search “portrait”

This approach can work with any tag, or even with text in descriptions or comments by filling the “optional: text” field instead. You can also increase the number of results in the feed by changing the number after “required: truncate”. Curious what all the other arguments do? Read clickykbd’s documentation on Flickr.

Flickr Commons Google Streetview Mashup

Flickr member Paul Hagon creates a fabulous mash-up, illustrating the power of the Commons. Here, Flickr meets Streetview, using the Flickr Commons’ images of New York in the 1930’s from the New York Public Library. Paul also mapped images from the Powerhouse Museum, State-Library of New South Wales and the National Library of New Zealand.


Paul Hagon’s Street View Mashups:

“Stay in Commons” Greasemonkey Script

Indicommons staff member and development maestro clickykbd has written a Greasemonkey Script that allows people to better browse the Flickr Commons from institution to institution. Greasemonkey is a Mozilla Firefox extension that allows users to install “user scripts” that makes changes web pages.

Once installed, the new “Flickr Stay in Commons” user script provides the following features:

Browse Commons Tags


The script adds an additional icon to each tag in the list to the right of a Commons photo. Clicking this icon will run a search for the tag across all Flickr Commons institutions.

This is a good way to find many historical photos that are similar to the one you are on, without having to wade through any contemporary photos. Just keep clicking the green circles for a grand tour of The Commons!

Search the Commons


Flickr has a search field in the top right corner of almost every page. The script adds a link to the menu beside this field that lets you use the field for searching The Commons.

With the script installed, you can now run a Commons search from anywhere on Flickr, instead of having to run a search from the Flickr Commons main page or from the advanced search page. When you search The Commons and visit a search result, you won’t have to “back out” to the search page to try a different query. Instead, you can just run the new search from the photo page that you’re currently on.

Install Flickr Stay in Commons

“Commons Recommendations” Greasemonkey Script

gm-recommendClickykbd’s Greasemonkey Script, “Flickr Commons Recommendations“, adds a grid of “recommendations” to the right side of any photo you encounter in the Flickr Commons collection. The photos in the grid are Commons photos that have been recently favourited by people who like the photo you are currently viewing.

Usually these “recommendations” posses a similar quality to the one you’re looking at, despite being from a variety of Commons institutions, so not only does this script help you stumble across many excellent commons photos you wouldn’t otherwise find, but it also tends to help identify threads that run across the commons.

For example, Recommendations on a “cute” photo tend to identify other “cute” photos in the collections of other institutions. It is great to see these threads emerge while browsing around, getting lost in The Commons. The associations might be less discrete than those created by tags, but they are no less interesting.

Install Flickr Commons Recommendations

Batch Date Changer


Our Chief of Development, David Wilkinson, recently responded to a request from the Brooklyn Museum to improve their flickr upload workflow. Commons institutions like the Brooklyn Museum tend to upload sets of images to flickr as “private”, add initial meta-data and then eventually switch the photos in the set to “public” in order to expose them to the flickr community. A problem with this method is that during this switch the photo upload dates remain in the past and the photos do not appear in many of Flickr’s recent uploads feeds.

To address this issue, David created a web application that uses Flickr’s API in order to update the upload dates of every photo in a set. This allows institution staff to update upload dates as they switch a set of photos from private to public, allowing the photos to appear freshly uploaded. The Batch Date Changer allows Commons photos receive maximum exposure while lightening the burden on institution staff.

This application is currently being used by the Brooklyn Museum and will soon be made available to all Flickr Commons institutions.