While we suppose that improving technology will extinguish the demand for human skills at some point, the fact is that talents intrinsic to humans are still needed, maybe even more than before. Customization and curation made by real people give digital businesses an added value.
If we were to collect all the internet’s memory, it would take up to 181 million years to download all the data stored. Most of the data produced is something we will never be able to grasp. For instance, numbers from a 2012 study entitled “The Digital Universe in 2020” show that only 0,5% of all data generated were analyzed. Advancements have been made in AI and data processing since then, yet we still only analyze a portion of all data created.
The online sphere can feel chaotic and overwhelming. With the added fake news phenomena and fact-checking that comes with that, it can quite frankly be too much for many people. Trying to make sense out of everything online and in the search for credible content, journalism’s value has risen again. For example, due to their reputation as a credible source, New York Times grew ten times more in the aftermath of the 2016 US elections, which were marked by the strategic use of fake news in political campaigns.
News outlets are differing themselves from general news in social media by selecting the most valuable information and interpreting it for the audience. What lesson can be learned from the way credible news outlets are dealing with the immense amount of data? That the human touch needed to verify and curate the data for its purpose is still of great use.
How does any of this apply to the photography industry?
Within seconds, you upload an image. It is estimated that, in 2018, more than 1 trillion photos were taken. Not only this hampers a photograph from standing out and being valued as it should, compared to pre-internet times, but it can also facilitate the loss of control over one’s pictures. Nowadays, as we all know, images are quickly and easily infringed.
Many businesses offer help to photographers in the process of gaining back control over their work. Technology can help in this process by producing a vast amount of data on all the infringements found, but then what? It is easy to find someone using your images, but it can be another story approaching someone who is using unlicensed photography for their business. It needs to be a smooth process and approaching someone without the knowledge or personal experience on how to proceed after you found the infringement can do more harm than good.
In many cases, it can end up creating a heavy workload for photographers, which takes valuable time from doing what they are supposed to be doing: creative work.
What is an actual case for the photographer, then? What is the relevant information businesses should be focusing on sending over?
Since the already mentioned knowledge and experience also includes human interaction, what every image rights company should send to the photographers as cases should be curated in advance, using the expertise of real people.
How are we applying it for RYDE?
We can give AI the knowledge and train it to learn and further have the experience necessary until it does not require much human effort for court-proofing. Technology pushes things to the next level by allowing us to be more efficient and scalable. Automation is necessary for digital businesses, but lately, it has become clear that human curation remains essential, if not more than before. We understood this need immediately when we first built RYDE.
We have experienced that there is a high degree that we can automate, and this is one of the principles that we have in our company, but we do much customization for every photographer that we onboard. Our background in copyright law helped us better understand and identify the problems photographers were facing with digitalization since we could listen to the clients that were seeking to get rewarded for their work. We know that not all photographers are the same — so why should we give them the same experience? We like to get to know each of our clients so that we can provide the best results based on their licensing practices.
For this business to work, there needs to be mutual trust. People dealing with people is a must-have to build a trust-worthy relationship.
For this reason, we give a lot of attention to our customer relations. We have Case Managers to support the client in every step of the way, personalizing their journey with us. We also realize the value of approaching image users in a personal and humane way as they can be of value to photographers as clients. We do this by offering a post-licensing agreement instead of criminalizing it immediately.
Our CPO, Philipp Köhn, summarizes: “AI and technology are beautiful, and we need it to outlive the internet and respond to the problems that come with progress and evolution. But, at the same time, we can’t forget that there is an emotional urge as a human being that we also need to answer. We should let technology do what it’s best at, and people in what they are best at”.
Combining both tech and human efforts brings us the best of both worlds in building more effective solutions.