Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Instagram of Nancy and me visiting our son and his girlfriend in Chico.
Not in 1972, as you might be thinking, but in 2012. That's what
$1 billion will get you.
I'm getting old, I confess, and more confused by the minute. Must be the great Powering Down that eases me into an eventual life of apoplexy and prune pudding.

Leafing through magazines at the hair cutter's or the dentist's, for instance, I frequently see page after page of celebrities I've never seen or heard of before.

They appear without context, without an explanation or justification for their celebrity. They're just there, demanding me to recognize them, but I don't. In the pictures they are marrying or divorcing or having babies that they name after a combination of colors and farm implements.

Or they are selling their Taos mansions (never buying, always selling … why?), or on the islands they own, rocking bikinis made by the fashion icons I have never heard of either.

Burger made, picture taken, 21st Century.
If context ever is provided, it's a disappointment: Usually the celebrity is someone I'm supposed to know from a reality television show in which a woman dates a bunch of men — or vice versa —on camera, and never really does marry the one he/she picks to marry — surprise! — because the Bachelor or Bachelorette really wants instead to appear on "Celebrity Apprentice" or "Dancing with the Stars." Again, the snake eats itself. (No, I'm not linking to those two shows.)

Fabulous rivers of money move beyond my notice, and vast unknowable people dip refreshed in their nourishing current.

Can I get a "Come again?"

The death knell for me is Instagram®™©, an app that facebook just bought for $1 billion. Dollar sign, the number one, and then nine zeroes.

And why not? With Instagram, users can take a perfectly good digital picture, run it through a filter to make it look the awful of their choice — poorly lit, yellowed, scratchy, abused in someone's back pocket, chemically color mismatched — and share it on their various social media.

That's what it does, right? Did I leave out something? Did I stomp on a nuance?

Meet Simba, keeper of our son's
girlfriend. I think the film roll
data is part of an Instagram filter.
That sound is broke Kodak™®©
retirees gnashing the nubs of their teeth.
In other words, with the same technology that rocketed us light years away from the era in which bad things could often happen to good photos, we can make good photos bad on purpose — for the enjoyment, no doubt, of legions who never had to make do with actual, physical poorly processed/colored/lit photos that came by snail mail order.

My son loves Instagram; it's how I know about it, through his facebook posts. These are his photos. To be fair, he's studying photography, knows computer graphics through-and-through, and also lives the social media, just like his peers, not merely dabbles in them. Also, he doesn't have the bad photos of which I speak — until the time of my prune pudding when he gets some of the photo albums for his inheritance.

He takes some good pix with Instagram, excepting the galoof at the top next to the lovely woman. He also takes pictures of foods he will eat, or roads he will drive on. Birds of the air. Leaves of the tree, and such.

When I first saw Instagram photos, I said to myself, "Hey, that's … ok … "

Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright's winter home in
Scottsdale, Ariz. Also an architecture school. Wonder
what the master might have said about Instagram …
Not something I'd ever use, but I've seen it, and I move on. Which is the mantra I deploy for most tech tools I encounter. I'm old, I told you. (Also, why is the Instagram website address spelled "instagr.am?" with the dot in the middle of the word? It's not like I don't understand too much already.)

Not sure I ever, ever, ever would have said, "Hey, Instagram has gotta be worth $1 billion, easy!"

Because it isn't. Unless the market says so, so I'm wrong.

Instagram will keep on doing what it's doing, its creators announced. Ten people total work at Instagram, which by the way has no profits. Each employee could get $100 million in cash and facebook stock options if they divided the purchase price evenly. Which they probably won't.

CEO-founders gotta eat, after all. Where have you been living, under a rock?

With me?


  1. Is this a bad time to mention that I really like Instagram? :) What I like best about it is that I can take a bad cell phone picture and make it more interesting. Sometimes I even email digital camera pictures back to my phone for a little extra flavor... it would seem my photo editing process is a little overly complicated, maybe I should just try taking a good picture the first time...

  2. ha! not a bad time at all. i get that it's a cool tool for the more highly evolved among us (which includes me out). i'm just mystified by the purchase price ; ).

  3. I'm waiting for RobAquatics to be acquired for a billion dollars... no calls yet but I'm sure they're coming :) Don't tell anyone but I'd totally take just a half a billion