I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about screenshots and how they’re one of the most used, yet under utilized assets in mobile. Screenshots are a frictionless way to share what you’re seeing through your own eyes. Below are just some stream of consciousness thoughts on Screenshots from a product perspective:

  • I think of screenshots as sort of a reblogging feature on steroids. It lets me take what I’m seeing from someone else and carbon copy it to my own feed to share.
  • They also don’t have to be social. It’s part reblogging and carbon copying, but also part just save it for later. Think Evernote or pinboard, but for things I find interesting. It might be a photo on instagram, my boarding pass, a certain email, or a text message conversation.
  • It hits on the Vicarious nerve of media. I think this is where Twitch.tv plays along with most of the youtube stars. Vicarious media gives us insights into the lives of others. Twitch for video games and youtube for the hauls of other shoppers. Screenshots hit on the same nerve, by letting us save and share what we’re seeing through our own eyes.
  • I don’t know how mainstream it is, but I think enough people know about it, especially teens. Snapchat might be a catalyst for this, as people now had a reason to use screenshotting to make sure the photo never disappeared.
  • It seems like everything is focused on sharing our life, when it’s not.  There’s no good way to share what we see other people doing, instead we can only really share what we’re doing.  That’s weird, when I think a big part of what makes everyone individual happens to be the experiences they observe in the wild.
  • I also think mobile phones are really personal devices and touch on every part of our lives in a way that most “personal computers” never could.  Screenshots let us share what’s happening on that screen.