Monday, January 28, 2008

Schmaps Maps - close but no banana (updated)

A few weeks ago I received an email in my Flickr inbox. It's a rare occasion, given my photographic skills amount to little more than point, shake a bit, point at the wrong thing, get distracted - and click.

Excitedly I opened my email from Emma J. Williams, who informed me that one of my photos, of a statue in Rome, had been shortlisted for inclusion in an online European city guide map called Schmap, a neat little company busy constructing media-rich guides using Flickr photos and Yahoo! maps.

At first, my worldwide-web-weary cynicism led me to assume this was some sort of scam, and by accepting their terms and conditions I would be surrendering my IP in perpetuity and so forevermore Emma and her gang would be making millions of filthy dollars from shots of my leg looking quite nice in my wedding dress [thanks for the comment, photoboy1970, can't say I'm such a massive fan of your Thai massage shots].

But when a fellow pod-dweller (for those of you uninitiated this means someone whose desk is cojoined with mine to form part of a unit - yes, we are the peas) then mentioned he also had a photo being considered by a city guide competition and had blithely accepted their terms and conditions I decided to forget worrying about the small print, ticked the box and hoped for the best. Now it wasn't just an appeal to my vanity, it was a competition.

Come on, I'm not stupid, I knew this was marketing, but this was damned sophisticated, hands-on marketing and an excellent way to source some high quality content for free. These were smart guys.

When the third pod-dweller admitted that yes, he too had been entered into a competition for a city guide map, I did start to wonder if there was something more sinister at work, who was this Emma J. Williams anyway?

All was forgiven, however, when Emma then informed me I was on the shortlist. Perfectly timed too, as I'd just forgotten about Schmaps and ceased to worry momentarily whether they were stealing my online identity and photoshopping my husband's face onto passports to be sold to the highest and most terrifying of bidders.

And then it happened. I only bloody won, didn't I? My image of Pasquino (see above), Rome's first talking statue, something I prided myself in spotting and recording, had actually made it into a Schmap!

Feeling a little smug - and let's be frank, not entirely surprised, I clicked the link to the Schmap of Rome sent by the now grateful Emma J. Williams which linked to the map, which showed my photo, credited to me, which then led users back to my Flickr photo.

Only problem was, it was attached to a cinema called "Pasquino" which has no apparent link with the statue. I was gutted. I even checked. The address is different, just the name remains the same.

Oh Emma. You very nearly had me for life. I had actually envisaged you and a colleague, maybe with one of those mini telescope things, poring over my photo and comparing my shot to some other poor Schmoe's wondering which of us really captured the spirit of the thing.

I have sent an email pointing out their error and asking for the photo to be withdrawn given their mistake, but it feels like it'll be less use than when my mum wrote to Fenchurch Street station to complain about what she perceived to be a cartel of snack vendors operating within the station falsely raising the price of chunky KitKats.

Now with no station master to appeal to, you tell me: is this a forgivable error by a company with a very smart method of both marketing and content building? Or maybe just a good old ego bubble burst for someone who forgot this used to be called vanity publishing?

P.S. Yes, I am deliberately, petulantly and pointlessly not linking to the Schmaps site.

Later note: Emma wrote to me and apologised! The weary tone of the email suggested they were not happy with a bunch of similar mistakes. I am grateful, and everyone does make mistakes. Link to site duly reinstated (I bet that stung for a while tho).


Savin (Nay) Wangtal said...

Ah.. so it's a legit site then? I just got a similar mail, and I decided to search it up before clicking on any links.

Louise Brown said...

Yes, it is a legit site, and looks much better managed now. Not sure how much you will be personally benefit from it, but looks pretty cool if it works and the quality control is now there.