AOL to take on Flickr with photo site overhaul

AOL is retooling its photo site with tagging and sharing features popularized by rival service Flickr.

AOL has begun publicly testing an upgrade of its AOL Pictures photo site that incorporates tagging, management and sharing features made popular by Yahoo's Flickr.

The beta site lets people create public galleries of their photos, categorize pictures with descriptive tags, add comments to them and search through all the public photos on the service's catalog, AOL said Thursday.

"AOL Pictures is the new place to go for a holistic pictures experience that will enable you to easily find, view and share images from AOL and a wide variety of other available sources," reads a note in the company's AOL Beta Central Web site.

As a startup, Flickr quickly revolutionized the stale world of online photo sites with a platform that fostered interaction among users by letting them categorize their photos with tags, share their albums and comment on each other's work. Google recently retooled its Picasa photo management site with Flickr-like features.

The "social media" approach at the heart of Flickr, considered a cornerstone of the so-called Web 2.0 era, has now been embraced by most major Internet companies, and it has been applied in other contexts, like news, video, search, blogging and podcasting sites.

Last year, Yahoo acquired Flickr and another tagging pioneer, del.icio.us, whose social bookmarking concept is having a deep effect in search engine evolution. Social bookmarking services let users save links to favorite Web pages, tag the links, share their lists with others and search through the service's index.

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Juan Carlos Perez

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