Styling itself the “social web browser”, Flock (based on Firefox), has a host of built-in features for social networking, but I’m writing about the one I like best – the Media Bar. This can be opened from the View menu or by clicking an icon in the Flock toolbar:
The Media Bar can be used with several different media services including Facebook and YouTube, but I only use it with Flickr. When the bar is open (at the top of the screen by default though you can move it to the bottom) it displays photo feeds laid out as a single-row grid of square tiles. (I have a thing for grid layouts so this is great for a start!)
There are a couple of built-in streams, which update regularly to show the latest images that have been added to Flickr, for example photos from your Flickr contacts:
But you can have your own custom streams too, and this is where the fun really starts. You can add your favourite Flickr searches – mine include “stitch textile”:
and “nuno felt”:
It’s visually exciting to see the thumbnails together, and if something particularly catches your eye, you can hover over the thumbnail and expand the image to see it better and find out who it belongs to – this one is by felt4uart:
Or you can click through direct to the image on Flickr (this is by KatharinaBe):
You can tell someone else about an image:
And save your favourite searches to revisit:
Sometimes I play with keyword searches for inspiration – this was “orange spiral”:
The default media stream is “Preview New” which displays the newest images from all your saved searches, including your Flickr contacts.
I spend much of my working day using a browser, so I really like this colourful little changing show of textiles and design inspiration quietly feeding itself onto my screen. Something will often catch my eye and give me a moment of pleasure. When I stop for a break I sometimes scroll back through recent images and maybe follow through one or two that stand out. And if it all gets too distracting, I can just close up the Media Bar, knowing next time I open it up there’ll be new goodies to enjoy.