Mike Isaac

Recent Posts by Mike Isaac

Cluster App Aims at Better Photo Curation (Especially for the Lazy)

Can’t say I get excited when I hear about a new photo-sharing app. The market is flooded. Plus, I’m lazy, and don’t feel like investing time and energy into yet another new app.

Serial entrepreneur Brenden Mulligan wants to convince me to feel otherwise. Not by changing my laziness, but by catering to it.

Yes, his new project, Cluster, is a photo-sharing application. But it targets the people much like myself, who always seem to put in the minimum viable effort in their friendships (or the photo documentation of them, at least).

Say you go out with your friends for something. New Year’s Eve. A bachelor party. Whatever. Everyone loves a photo album commemorating your good time, right? (Agree with me, for the sake of argument.) Problem is, there are guys like me: I’m too lazy to upload my photos to a group Dropbox, a shared Tumblr, even an ongoing email list. Yes, I am a terrible friend.

So Cluster works like this: Users create albums — or “clusters,” natch — centered around a specific date, time and folks who attended. You, the proactive photo gatherer, upload the appropriate pictures to the Cluster.

You then pick which friends attended, and the app will automatically find which pictures in your friends’ albums were likely associated with that event, based on a few factors found in the metadata. Your friends have to do little more than agree to share those photos.

The idea, unlike recent releases such as Albumatic, is that users want to come back and revisit those photos later on, after the event. Not while it’s going on. That’s different from the flopped Color app, or the most recent version of Highlight.

“If I’m out with a group of people, I don’t want to be looking at the pictures I’m taking in the moment,” Mulligan told me. “I want to be enjoying the moment.”

That’s an idea I totally sign on to. I like actually having fun, rather than looking at all the fun I’m “having” by staring at my phone the whole time. It’s part of what I strongly dislike about Silicon Valley — the pointed act of letting others know just how much I’m enjoying myself is not only obnoxious, it makes little sense.

Still, we return to the familiar problem: Do folks want yet another photo-sharing application?

Perhaps so. Cluster seems to offer more utility than some competitors, and Mulligan hints that there’s more to come (an Android version, reducing duplicate photos, better recognition capabilities, etc.).

Whatever. I can get behind an app that helps me fend off the pestering of my digital-scrapbooking friends.

It’s in the App Store now if you want to check it out.

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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google