Editorial

For some reason, slideshows are still a thing

Mac users will sympathise with me here: you're working away on some photos you took earlier that day, nice mug of tea, Bowie playing in the background, when suddenly your phone starts ringing. Or the dog jumps on your lap. Or just absolutely anything that would cause you to absent-mindedly hit the pause button. And then--oh wait, no, no I didn't mean for that, oh damn...the screen fades away, your photos start whizzing past, and the musical legend has been replaced by some dude on a guitar hired to write the most monotonous piece known to man. This, my friends, is the slideshow.

My big problem with the slideshow isn't so much that it pops up when it doesn't need to. That's the kind of thing I could probably fix easily with a third party tool. No, my biggest gripe is that slideshows just don't work as a way of showing off photos. Back on my old phone you had to start a slideshow and manually pause it just to get the photo full screen. To this day I still can't understand why they didn't just include a full screen option instead of a slideshow. All that trouble of making a timer setting and all that, for what?

When you're showing photos off to people, the slideshow doesn't work for one key reason: the computer has no idea how interesting each photo is. It's a very rare situation where people will sit down and watch photos flying past without saying a word. Naturally, when people do have something to say, you have to pause the slideshow. And then the music stops. The whole experience is pretty jarring, and it's not even something people want a lot of the time. In my experience, they just use it to show their pictures bigger.

And then you've got the mobile slideshow. Now this, I feel, is something that just gets tacked on as a selling point. So now we've made another stupid assumption that people will huddle round a three-inch screen. Seriously, who is doing this? Watching a film on a small screen is awkward enough, but who is telling everyone to sit down and watch the slideshow on my tiny phone? It might have been cool the first time someone did it, but beyond showing off your new toy it's hard to pinpoint any time ever I've wanted a mobile slideshow.

In more recent times slideshow apps have begun to jazz things up a bit. They try to zoom and fade on interesting parts. The PS3 has a very nice slideshow app that casually throws the photos down on a virtual table. Apps like that, though, are kind of a throwback to the mobile slideshow. Sure, it looks fancy, but it's just taking the problems of physical photos and applying them to the virtual world. "Boy, I sure wish my photos were smaller and harder to focus on!" No. Nobody has ever said that. Trying to sell the photo throwdown as anything more than shiny play fun is a complete joke.

Coming to the end of this piece, you might be thinking that I want all slideshows to burn. I don't; it probably wouldn't affect me if they did. The point I'm trying to make here is that we assume it should come part-and-parcel with every photo app, when really it just isn't that useful. Slideshows will probably be here for years to come, and for years to come I'll still be here scratching my head over them. Maybe by then I'll have found a use for it beyond just "Hey look what my toy can do!". Or perhaps not. Just be thankful that this isn't part of a slideshow, else it would've faded off long before you'd finished reading it.

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15 Comments

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I don't have that fancy a phone, but don't see the point in a slideshow with music. It is better for someone to just flip through the photos in full size at their own pace. Why do you need music coming out of a tiny speaker on a phone with no interaction?

windows media center, although somewhat annoying to get through, does have an option to view photos fullscreen.

As someone who keeps all his photo-memories on a server, foldered and delivered to my media player - I 100% agree with this article.

I actually love slideshows, I like seeing reminders of holidays, parties, Christmasses, etc. But they are delivered in such useless ways! I have no idea what the solution is, but it's not currently being used.

Looking for a solution is nigh-on impossible. A crap slideshow is such an easy app to produce, the web is littered with them all proclaiming to be amazing and yet all doing the same thing!

Meanwhile in *, people are starving to death.
Meanwhile in the Announcement section, staff celebrate their birthdays instead of being in the Milestones section.

THIS WORLD IS SO UNJUST!

tiagosilva29 said,
Meanwhile in *, people are starving to death.
Meanwhile in the Announcement section, staff celebrate their birthdays instead of being in the Milestones section.

THIS WORLD IS SO UNJUST!


People are starving to death as you blissfully watch YouTube, too. I'm not sure what your point is.

Northgrove said,
People are starving to death as you blissfully watch YouTube, too. I'm not sure what your point is.
The world is unjust because of slideshows.

tiagosilva29 said,
Meanwhile in *, people are starving to death.

You are on a technology news website, not BBC News or CNN. What kind of editorial did you expect to find here?

Dead'Soul said,
interesting point. nice catch
Ofcourse it is! Malaria and Dengue kill millions every year.

Gee, what a first world problem. Mute your sound and hit the pause button from time to time.
It's what the Dutch call turning an mosquito into an elephant.

MMaster23 said,
Gee, what a first world problem. Mute your sound and hit the pause button from time to time.
It's what the Dutch call turning an mosquito into an elephant.

To be fair, mosquitoes kill far more people than elephants do.

roadwarrior said,

To be fair, mosquitoes kill far more people than elephants do.

Could be wrong - but that isn't a proven fact (yet)