ac;pic: photo albums don’t work

“At one time, MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated.” [1]


Albums made sense when photos were made of paper.

To successfully organize digital photos, stop using albums.

For over a century we had a method: photos go in albums. But then we forgot to switch from organizing physical goods (paper) to digital assets. We kept the old system.

Paper can only be in one place at a time (like in an album), but a digital asset can be in many places at the same time.

We have more images and videos than ever before. And yet we’re using a solution from a time when this was not a problem.

A photo album is a box

A digital photo album is like a big box. You can have ‘the’ album (in a photo app, in a folder in your computer or the cloud) where all the photos go, just like the big box at home with all the paper photos.

The big box has small boxes - often in the form of subfolders or specific albums. Each small box has a label, such as ‘Vacations 2010’, ‘Graduation’, ‘Birthday 2015’, ‘Friends’, etc. If you’re very organized, inside each small box there are smaller boxes. Inside ‘Vacations 2010’ you might have ‘Las Vegas April 2010’ and ‘Cancun July 2010’.

You’re trapped

“Trapped in a box of tremendous size

It distorts my vision, it closes my eyes” [2]


The first problem with this ‘big box > small box > smaller box’ categorization is that it must be followed to maintain organization. It’s fixed. Can’t change it. Changing it is a lot of work.

Each new photo entering the system must fall into an existing small box or a new one must be created. This new small box can be ‘uncategorized’ (the folder where the photos that do not belong anywhere go) or a new name must be created.

The second problem with this Matryoshka is that you can’t see what’s in a folder unless you dig in.

To see a photo, you have to remember the category system and go to the corresponding box. If you can’t remember the box naming conventions and/or hierarchy, you will be going in and out of boxes.

If you want to increase organization, the only way to filter down a small box is by creating more smaller boxes, which in turn reduce visibility and make the system more complex. More photos means more small boxes. More small boxes, the more difficult it is to find something.

You’re trapped.

Simple is organized

The way to solve this is not by creating a better album system. It's by making it irrelevant (ie: the solution to ‘expensive fuel’ is not ‘cheaper fuel’, but ‘electric car’).

Organization has to be simple, otherwise it won’t work. With ac;pic we asked ‘what does a simple product look like?’

Simple is natural. The brain organizes memories by association. Association of places, people, context, moments. It only makes sense to have an organizational method for photos and videos - triggers for memories - similar to the brains’ method.

Organization is finding what you want when you want it. Photos and videos are memories, they make a moment last forever. Memories deserve better than boxes.

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