Ponga Blog Post

Photo by Amy Reed on Unsplash
May 3, 2021

What We Are & What We Aren’t

Ponga is very different

Ponga is very different from photo storage, photo editors, social media, blogging platforms, and family history pages.

While photos are at our core, it never really was about pictures. It’s about the stories that hide in those pictures and pull at our heartstrings. Stories have the power to bring friends, families, and communities together with narratives we can relate to or actively participate in. This approach makes Ponga very different from photo storage, photo editors, social media, blogging platforms, and family history pages.

The introduction of the smartphone that combined a digital camera with mobile computing and communications was a catalyst for a Cambrian explosion of uses for photography. Photos bled into all aspects of our communications. They were no longer simply another media type.

Snapshots, for example, function as high-resolution notes documenting that a package was delivered, or soliciting feedback from a plumber. They communicate feelings in selfies, or opinions in memes. If you have a marketing message to communicate, the visual hammer you carry into blogs, tweets, and posts is as important as your ads.

A cluster of family images

The iconic moments you capture to share with friends, family, and loved ones are intertwined with the stories that hold you together. That picnic that brought together four generations, that high-five from a mentor are stories that gain richness as they’re shared. We realized that we needed a better platform connect us to these kinds of stories.

There are plenty of ways to edit, manage, and view photos. What they don’t do is give us a way to use photos to bring a community together in stories. That’s why we do what we do.

Tools that were out there like Instagram, Snap, and Tiktok, allow for pictures to be shared publicly with captions and even audio and video stories. When they’re paid for with advertising, however, pictures turn into a public performance. When you’re looking to share a personal story, you’re not looking for a stage.

Photo storage tools like Google Photos, Apple Photo provide sophisticated means to capture images from your many devices and archive them in the cloud. They offer various ways to add captions and share links, but no way authenticate visitors, protect the information, and add rich media.

How our approach is different

Lots of companies that store images also implement face detection, even recognition. Many of them offer recognition as part of their storage solutions as it benefits them with a database of faces they can use to refine their recognition algorithms for use or licensing elsewhere.

Organized by people: Our approach has been to use face-detection technology for one specific purpose, organizing your photos. We keep your images and the facial geometries used to match individuals privately. It’s not shared with other users, technology partners, or anyone. As our member, you put names to faces we collect them into albums based on the people you name. We also label every picture in which those named people appear. This is a key function for us, so we make it super easy to name, update, or change.

(From Harger Family Afternoon Picnic. Learn more about this picture in this post: 12 Kinds of Content You Can Add to Your Picture in Ponga

Stories woven with digital threads: We also know that digital references are as much a part of how we tell stories today as pictures. “Text me that link” is a common refrain in conversations among friends. Stories today need ways to pull in media, references, even documentation from anywhere. If it’s online, you should be able to bring it right into your story. If it’s media, we should stream it right in.

Private: Authentic, honest storytelling can be very personal. We’re all sensitive to who’s in the room before telling a story. The authenticity comes from revealing personal details. Those same details, exposed in a story, can easily expose someone to identity theft or worse. We protect our members’ photos and stories with best-in-class security and give them direct control over access.

Ownership: Unlike social media and other kinds of sharing tools, what’s yours is yours. As our member, when you upload pictures, you control who can see them. If your guests add comments you’d rather not see, you can delete them. If your original files included curated metadata and titles, then we keep that information intact.

There’s no file format changes or downsizing images. As you’ll see in our terms of service, you own your images, we protect them and keep them secure. We don’t sell you to advertisers or get you to buy prints or gifts to make money. Our business model is the service we provide so that you can use pictures to bring everyone together with stories.

What we don’t do

To do what we do well, we partner with other companies to help you with related functions. Today’s digital cameras are widely available but we work with scanning experts to make it easy for you to digitize your prints and bring them into Ponga.

Once you have your digital images, there are thousands of ways you might edit and enhance images. We support image files of any size so you don’t have to fuss with downsizing. If you’ve curated the metadata in your images, we’ll protect it in backups of your files. If a link to a travel site about your motorcycle journey, that’s great, just add the link. If you posted a video about your family’s ancestral village, awesome, just drop us the link and we’ll embed the video.

This approach has allowed us to focus on our own best work. There are still many features we don’t have yet. As a startup, we’ve had to narrow our scope to bring the key bits to market first. We have many more features on our product roadmap. We look forward to your insight and feedback and plan to incorporate that into a better way to tell your stories.

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