Since I started using Flickr to show of my photography to the world, I’ve neglected my own self-hosted galleries here at I’m considering doing away with the Gallery software altogether and maybe swapping it out for a simpler interface for displaying a portfolio.

At any rate, Flickr has been a much better interface for me because in addition to being a photo hosting site, it’s also a social network and that allows me to get greater exposure into the world. One of the things Flickr does is rate your photos according to “interestingness.” I’m not exactly sure what that entails, but its some magic formula combining the number of views, comments, and favorites an image receives, and I’m sure the rate at which these are received is taken into account. Every day, Flickr takes the top 500 uploads and displays them in a section they call Explore. Given that there are millions of photos uploaded each day, making it into Explore is quite challenging, but also quite an honor. Or maybe it doesn’t really mean anything at all. What confuses me is that most of the images that make Explore probably don’t deserve to be there. After all, the algorithms used to generate the interestingness score are more so a reflection of popularity than the technical quality of a photograph. In addition, a photo with fewer views, comments, and favorites can be ranked higher than one that exceeds it in all three categories. So while it’s fun to get a photo into Explore, it’s not necessarily a reflection of your ability.

Flickr also uses this algorithm to return back to you your top 200 interesting photos from your photo stream. I mostly keep track of the top 20 from time to time to see if the list matches my top picks. For the past few years, my top three images have been some old favorites: the waterfall at Heatherbrook, Mount Washington from Mount Chocorua, and Blue Mine (Wyanokie) Falls.
The Waterfall at Heatherbrook Mt. Washington from Mt. Chocorua Blue Mine Falls

In fact, it seemed that a good handful of the top 20 were waterfall shots. Most of the top 20 dated back to my film days, and only one made the list from my first year in Idaho. In short, the top 20 seemed pretty robust. But recently there was an upset that changed my top 20. Two images from the past week jumped right up into the list, one of which landed in the number 3 seat. Both of these images coincidentally also made it to Explore for their respective upload dates.
Aurora The Enchanted Forest

It’s kind of neat to see that this list really isn’t as robust as I thought it was, that an image had to stand the test of time and gradually rise to the top. I’ll never understand just how Flickr’s algorithm chooses the best images, but I’ll be keeping an eye on the interestingness to see how it changes.

The full list can be seen at