Gray’s Anatomy – what are you oggling at? – By Richard Gray

“This week saw the launch of Hipstamatic’s long-awaited photo-sharing app. And what have they decided to call their new app, I hear you ask? Well, no doubt after great investment in some expensive Los Angeles PR consultancy, they’ve settled on the name Oggl. OK, yes, like Flickr, Tumblr, Grmblr, they’ve missed out some letters. That’s the first five minutes of the consultant’s fee. But what about the actual meaning of the word. Or the things that people think of when they hear it. Did they road-test it in the UK? Possibly not. Did they even road-test it anywhere? Possibly not. The (presumably American) Urban Dictionary gives as an example of the word’s usage: “Dude, don’t oggle my Mom’s tits”. So far, so bad. Think a bit more and “oggle” has the connotation of looking at something without one’s brain switched on. Not very good for an app for a “Community of Creative People”.

Maybe they chose it to lure the takeover interests of Google, which wouldn’t have to do much rebranding if they decided to launch Google Oggle? (Shame Google aren’t called Goggle, as Goggle Oggle would have been a cracking name). Perhaps some additional research could also have been spent on finding out whether @oggl already existed as a user name on Twitter. It does. Poor Oscar Garcia (1 follower, me) must have wondered where all his new-found popularity had come from when he picked up his phone last Saturday morning.

But perhaps the Hipstas are one step ahead of the game (they usually are)? Perhaps it is a knowing wink to a tradition of embarrasingly named killer brands. Our own mobile world continues to suffer something of an identify crisis. Last year we saw the coining of the term “motography” (nothing to do with Jeremy Clarkson) and to untrained ears the most universally accepted term in the mobile photography world, iphoneography, raises some eyebrows. And of course my own attempt to coin “iphoggy” must – I think I now have to admit – be deemed a failure. I didn’t do any research into that one either.

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‘what are you oggling at?’ – ©Richard Gray

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About Richard Gray

Richard's mobile photography has been exhibited around the world and published in various magazines and on many websites. He launched the world's first live course in iPhone photography in early 2012 with Kensington and Chelsea College. He has given workshops with The Photographers' Gallery and British Journal of Photography. Sport England recently commissioned him to cover various of its Sportivate initiatives with the iPhone. A keen observer of this new photographic genre, his writing has been widely published (most notably in The Guardian) and he writes a blog (iphoggy-bloggy). With a big camera, he specialises in music photography (rugfoot.net) and syndicates to Press Association (with both big and small cameras).