flickr in the evening. However, when it comes time to send postcards back home, you still have to browse through the assorted offerings from the gift shop, emblazoned with hokey "wish you were here" sentiments overtop images that look nothing like the place you're visiting.When you go on vacation, you no longer pack canisters of film for taking vacation photos - you just pack a digital camera and a handful of batteries. If the hotel has wi-fi, you might even upload photos from the day's activities to
In this post we look at web 2.0 services that give you more options with digital photos - postalz and scrapblog.
Now there's a new service called postalz that lets you create and send digital postcards using your own images instead. Signing up for an account is a quick process that involves entering your email address and picking out a username. You're given a URL of postalz.com/yourusername where all the postcards you create will be stored. After that, you can begin to create your first digital postcard.
The basic options allow you to customize the background, add a banner, and choose the handwriting by selecting one of the "handwriting" fonts. Clicking the "spice it up" button gives you the ability to customize the postcard further with your own photos imported from flickr or uploaded from your PC. You can also upload videos from YouTube, Guba, or Metacafe.
Other options let you insert text boxes or clipart, but be warned - the clipart looks like it's more appropriate for a MySpace profile, with images like bouncing hearts, swimming fish, and yes, even something that looks like a floating piece of blue cheese. (I know, I don't understand either). However, the clipart section called "callouts" has conversation and thought bubbles that could be placed above the photo subjects' heads and customized with clever sayings, thus saving the clipart section from being a total loss.
Of course, if you're into the MySpace thing, you can decorate your card to the point of distraction and embed the code on your MySpace, bebo, Facebook, orkut, friendster, hi5, tagged, piczo, Blogger, or xanga page.
Postcards are sent via email and postalz gives you easy access to your address books from Yahoo, Gmail, Outlook, or AOL to do so. People receiving the card can not only read the card, but can comment on it using "spots", which is a feature that lets them add an interactive response anywhere on the card. They can even edit the postcard itself, and compose a reply right on the card, as if responding to an email.
Although the postcards are fun to create and play around with, getting just the right look could take some time as the postcards tend to look somewhat juvenile without any real effort put into their creation. Therefore, people who always try to achieve perfection with their online creations may want to stick to faster methods for sharing their photos until they get home and have more time.
However, if I was looking for the best way to showcase my photos in a more artistic way, I think I would wait until vacation was over and come home to create a scrapblog page instead.
The scrapblog service lets you use your photos to create highly personalized online scrapbook albums. You can use one of the pre-defined themes, or you can start with a blank page and completely customize it with backgrounds, shapes, frames, text, and stickers, almost like a real scrapbook. YouTube videos can be added as well.
The customizations and add ins at scrapblog are, overall, of much higher quality of those at postalz, so the end results are more aesthetically appealing designs. At scrapblog, the focus is more on creating a lasting online album, not a quick postcard, so it's clear they spent time making sure the customization options were diverse and plentiful, not just a collection of goofy clipart.
scrapblog page featured in scrapblog blog
Scrapblog also has a future service planned where you will be able to keep or give your scrapblog albums as photo books or DVDs, something more that speaks to the permanence of what they want to offer.
Both services have potential, though, as they bring us digital methods for sharing photos in more creative ways than simply uploading them to an online galleries or making slideshows at RockYou. With digital cameras in the hands of almost every consumer now, I expect we will see even more services like these in the future.