Instagram Challenger Bokeh Canceled

Around early Summer 2019, a new photo social network was kickstarted. Bokeh was to be like Instagram before Facebook ruined it. With promise and potential built-in, being based upon solid core principles, I was interested and supportive, backing the endeavor on Kickstarter. Sadly, after two years in development, the project has been canceled.

I was enthusiastic about Bokeh and the idea that something like the original Instagram could reappear. I wanted a social media platform more focused on the photo aspect rather than the social aspect. I guess that would have been like Flickr is now, which when I last checked was still pretty nice.

While a bit disappointing to see the project not meet its goals, I understand not all dreams become reality. Still, it was worth a shot; I believed in it.

Now that we’re at this point, though, I’m wondering if maybe it’s best to not have any new social media sites. They simply tend to degrade over time for various reasons. However, there is another new photo/social site up and coming called Glass.

Glass seems to embody similar core principles as did Bokeh, one being that it’s a paid service, so it’s not based on the scammy ad model that sucks up all your private/personal data (meta or otherwise), using it to target ads at you, and possibly using it for other nefarious purposes. The other Bokeh-like feature is no algorithms, just a chronological feed. How quaint! Also no metrics, no likes, and only commenting; I’d like to try that.

So we have Flickr and Glass available for photo/social and maybe others I’m not aware of. Good options exist for something like Instagram circa 2011, but I don’t have the same interest in all that anymore. When the photo bug bites me again, I’ll probably just use SmugMug owned Flickr. But Glass remains on my radar.

Bokeh Will Soon Be Beta

Way back in 2019, an alternative to Instagram was kick-started. The name: Bokeh. After some delay, it is still inching toward the finish line. In fact, private (beta) testing is almost here. And being a backer, I should be able to soon give it a try – exciting! Will it take off? The potential is there.


What is Bokeh?

I’ve written about it before: here, here, and here.

In short, it’s a privacy respecting, ad-free, social-photo-network like Instagram. You know, before IG was bought by Facebook.

How does Bokeh work?

Simple. You pay for it! The monthly cost, I think, is relatively low, something like $3 a month (don’t quote me on that though – it could be different).

Since it’s a paid app/service, there is no ad-based monetization scheme. That means no “Sponsored Posts” in your feed. Also, it keeps your privacy – get this – private! I think that’s worth a monthly fee.

Bokeh, like other social networks, connects you to other people on the service. You share photos and can comment and do the things you’d expect, such as view a feed/stream.

The developers have been hard at work coding and such to bring Bokeh to life. I’m eager to see the fruits of their labor.

Yes, the question remains, will Bokeh survive or grow? What level of success would be considered good? The answer remains open, and I’m open to Bokeh’s potential.

Of course, some start-ups fail. But other networks find success. SnapChat and TikTok come to mind. So yeah, Bokeh can succeed.

In fact, since Instagram’s experience suffers under a bloat of copy-cat features, and Facebook’s reputation is forever tarnished, Bokeh stands a good chance to find those seeking a good alternative. It’s delayed release may be ideal timing.

One thing must never happen though. Bokeh can’t eventually sell-out to Facebook. If it proves popular, even competitive, it should keep standing on its own two feet like SnapChat, for example. Let Facebook try to copy Bokeh’s success; I doubt it could pull it off. Facebook would need to drop its whole ad-based privacy-compromising revenue model. So it fundamentally can’t copy Bokeh! And that gives Bokeh a chance to thrive.

Even if Bokeh turns out to be an experiment, I support it. I want to see what a paid-for social-network can be like. Whatever good points it shows, they can be honed into what eventually might be the future of social-media beyond Facebook. Seriously? Yeah!

Would Bokeh compete with Twitter? Or could Bokeh complement it (as in complete it)? I’m not sure. That’s why we need to wait and see. I’m welcoming Bokeh to the stage to share its talent. It’ll be worth watching.

Oh, by the way, if/when the service opens up to the public, you’ll want to hop on it fast. Why? The sooner you do, the more likely you’ll be able to score your preferred user-name!

Will you join Bokeh when it goes live? Would you be more likely to try a paid social-media service if it has a free trial period? Sound off below!


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Reset Your Digital Self

You know the flustered feeling that all your tech devices and social media services can bring? Turns out, the overwhelming mental clutter can be relieved. I’m not talking about a radical shift like Digital Minimalism, although that would help. It can be simple. In this case, I’m referring to an informative post with a few ideas for a Digital Reset.


Click over to the blog of Anil Dash and check out the list of steps he takes to regain control over his tech life. It’s straightforward and down-to-earth. I like the practical tidbits he shares.

Two of his key principles I especially want to echo here.

Fear Of Missing Out

First, if you decide to step away from social media, FOMO is not as bad as you think. The acute feeling of denial – that fear of not knowing what the latest cool meme is – subsides quickly, being replaced by tranquil relief from the onslaught of info overload.

Deliberate Data

The second principle is about all that info. It’s good to have only intentional info.

For me, the best way to have this is to not have any news feeds! So avoiding social media, I like to intentionally go to websites that I know and trust for certain info. I even use a DuckDuckGo search field to find new info – on purpose!

All it takes is a little clicking and typing and swiping – slightly more effort than mindlessly doom-scrolling Twitter or Facebook.

Addressing Algorithms

If or when I do interact with social media accounts, I like Anil’s idea of resetting the algorithms that fill the feed with stuff. Maybe if I un-pause my Twitter usage, I will likewise unfollow everyone, or at least do a massive purge and slowly rebuild the feed content.

This past week, I unfriended 76 people’s accounts on Facebook. I’m sure my newsfeed will look different now, but I rarely visit Facebook anymore. Shrug.

There are other ways to do a digital reset beyond social media. If it sounds like a good idea to you, go read Anil’s post. I think you’ll find it helpful.


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Figuring Out Photo Sites Again

Like me, I bet you take lots of pictures. With your phone…er camera. And they’ve gotta go somewhere. You likely just back’em up with the default photo/cloud system on your phone. And the ones that are share-worthy, you probably have your go-to site or service like Instagram. But I’m not sure where I stand with all that now.


In October, something spurred me to reconsider investing in Flickr as my place to practice and pursue photography as a hobby. It’s compelling, but I think the biggest barrier is time.

Then, as I was contemplating Flickr for my photos, a few things happened. One, Google Photos, my oft-enjoyed photo service of choice, dropped a small tactical nuke: no more free photo storage!

Second, I switched from Android back to an iPhone, so I migrated away from Google Photos to iCloud Photos. Because Apple. And I like it.

So, for me and my family, we’re relying on Apple’s iCloud photo library to auto back-up all our cat pics, food shots, and selfies. And the ones that are share-worthy, well, that’s the part I’m unsure about.


One good article that helped me think about this is here; check it out.

Ignoring the lack of time, Flickr would be my first choice because…good reasons. But the limiting factor then would be either the 1,000 photo limit at the free tier, or simply paying money for the Pro tier. I’d like to support Flickr with my money, but that’s another blog post.

Other than Flickr, are there other good options for posting good images? Instagram? No, I said “good options.” IG is just not good anymore as it has gotten worse and worse over time. I can’t believe IG replaced the main photo capture button! That’s a bad sign for sure. Bokeh has less competition since IG has strayed so far from its roots!


For now, I’m not really sharing any pictures except for the occasional one on Facebook. But those are not typically the photo-hobby type, they’re more like what you’d put on Instagram circa 2012.

Are there any sites besides Flickr these days that are worth any investment? Is iPhoneography still a thing?


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Bookish Thoughts On No Filter

Who doesn’t like a book that’s unputdownable? I finished reading one (on my kindle paperwhite, of course) last week by Sarah Frier titled, No Filter. It is THE book about…Instagram! #reading #fortheloveofbooks This post is not a proper book review; I’m just sharing some things about the book.


The Story

I knew I’d enjoy the story behind Instagram; I wasn’t disappointed. If you’ve ever wondered about how Instagram came about, how it works, or if you just like social media or photography, you’ll be interested to read No Filter.

It might sound boring at first. How can reading about people sitting around typing computer code to build an app be interesting? Well, when you put it that way… But that’s not how Instagram (IG) went down.

In the book, you learn about the many influences that caused IG to come to life at the beginning and then grow into the 2nd biggest social network ever! You’ll understand just how that worked out.

One favorite tidbit of mine was how the whole concept developed. Without spoiling all the details (skip the rest of this paragraph if you want zero spoilers), Kevin Systrom, one of the co-founders of IG, enjoyed photography. On a trip, he was made to use an old low quality camera that only shot square photos, forcing him to be creative. Later, these constraints were applied to IG.

No Filter is interesting because there are many people involved, each with their own agendas, goals, biases, motivations, proclivities, affinities, flaws, and strengths. Like characters in any story, these cause plenty of drama. At play are the key factors of power, pride, principles, and personalities of two of the tech-sector’s most prominent leaders ever: Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, and Kevin Systrom of Instagram.

It’s about Instagram versus Facebook, and versus Twitter, and versus SnapChat. The CEO’s of each company, along with their strategic decisions, interact for or against each other at different times. This was very interesting.

(Not an affiliate link.)

The story-arc I was most fascinated to learn was how IG tragically devolved from an aesthetic photo sharing service to a social-status popularity contest among influencers!

At the start, IG was nice because the built-in photo filters helped make pictures look good, even artistic, at a time when smartphone cameras were poor quality. But as the cameras improved, photo filters were less important.

Instead, there was a new way to use “filters.” These were not for pictures themselves; they were for the people taking the pictures. To gain followers and likes, and thus sponsored ads, people filtered their own lives, making them appear much nicer and cooler than reality. #fake.

Creativity and beauty – art – were not an end in themselves, something to be appreciated and enjoyed. They were used as a means to an end: fame and fortune. Regular users strove to appear as celebrities. With glitz and glam, or even shock value, they became known as “Influencers.”

It’s important to understand that IG’s degraded ethos had an adverse affect on our culture at large. Young teens, for example, suffered burdensome pressure to perform. Seeking ever more validation, some buckled under the induced anxiety. In fact, this harmful trend was a driving reason why SnapChat came into existence.

In sum, there was a lot more going on behind the scenes involving IG than you may realize. It’s this behind-the-curtain look in No Filter that I enjoyed. It’s apt to say the devil’s in the details.

The Book & The Writing

Sarah Frier’s work details the history of IG in a chronological narrative. It’s not dry. It reads like a piece of fiction told in the 3rd person, but the fact that this is a true story with real people – literally billions! – makes it all the more involving.

The length is neither too short nor too long. I’m kind of a slow reader, and it took me about two weeks to read this book in my spare time. I got through much of it on the weekends.

No Filter goes on the bookshelf with Steven Levy’s, Facebook: The Inside Story. It’s kind of remarkable to me that these two books were released so close together this year.

Reading the story of IG made me want to also read the story of Twitter! It’s called, Hatching Twitter, by Nick Bilton. So yeah, that’s on my to-read shelf now!

So, if you’re looking for a good read, I recommend No Filter by Sarah Frier.


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