Jan 1 2012
When you think of the Internet, what words spring to mind? Think it over. I’ll wait.
OK. Time’s up.
For me, when I think of the Internet, I think of, naturally, the words “Thomas Hobbes.”
You know good ol’ Tom, right? He was the famous English philosopher, mostly known for his political stuff, and he coined the phrase “nasty, brutish, and short” when describing ancient society. That’s what life was like before pre-historic man decided to set up some form of “government” and relinquish total freedom.
After all, since life was chaotic and dangerous, why not band together and implement order, so people can live, work, and eat their wooly mammoth drumsticks in peace?
And the same goes for the Internet. It can be a wild, anarchic, and downright mean place. But fortunately every now and then someone comes along to make things less inimicable. ImgBox, which provides fast and simple image hosting, is just that someone, and – not coincidentally – they’re today’s feature.
ImgBox lets you safely and ethically upload images and then link to them from their site. I say “ethically” because ImgBox solves the brutish problem that has continued to proliferate across the Internet, and that would be hotlinking.
No, “hotlinking” it isn’t a drunken, bratwurst-infused tailgating ritual outside of Lambeau Field on Packers game day; rather, hotlinking is when people link directly to images from other places.
Traditionally, it has gotten a bad rap because people who hotlink an image from someone else’s website, rather than uploading the photo on their own server, are essentially stealing the host image’s bandwidth. Not cool. And it’s into this Hobbesian dystopia that steps ImgBox, who establishes order and calm by saying, “Hey guys, we got this. Host your images on our server, and hotlink to them all you want. It’s on us. Keep your server free for more important stuff, like that pirated copy of the new Sherlock Holmes movie that looks all pixilated and washed out.” (I saw a guy watching it on a plane the other day.)
And it’s true, there’s no catch. Uploading images to Imgbox is like exiting an online confession booth – you feel clean and free having hotlinked without shame or guilt. But how’s the site itself? Glad you asked.
The interface is simple and clean and first-time visitors are immediately prompted to “Select Files” to upload. I did – it was a simple old jpeg – and then was prompted to select the content type (Safe for Work or Not Safe for Work), Thumbnail Size, and Gallery Option, meaning I could create a gallery to put it in should I felt so inclined.
I did it and was then taken to a veritable buffet of link-hosting options pertaining to the image. There was the url for the image itself, a link to it, as well as the HTML and BB code for copy and pasting purposes. And that was that. Imgbox also brings of host of other goodies to the table. It’s really fast, has 10MB maximum file size, and boasts unlimited storage space and time. No sign up is required, it’s free, and you also have the option of creating your own account in order to keep track of your images and galleries or edit and delete old images. And most importantly, your images are confidential and hidden from search engines on ImgBox’s site.
The practical benefits of a service like ImgBox, of course, are obvious. More than ever, “content is king,” and ImgBox can be, in essence, your own personal server to upload content that can be linked to websites, blogs, eBay auctions, you name it. So, if you ask me, ImgBox provides a must-have service while eliminating the sticky moral quandaries associated with old-school hotlinking.
Which brings us back to Hobbes.
His main thing was that to avoid mass chaos, people form social contracts that, in turn, form the basis of civil society. And while the Web may be far from tamed, ImgBox’s offering – in essence, a social contract enabling users to hotlink to them for free and in an ethical manner – signifies one small step to a more just, cultured, and civilized Web.
(Now if they could just find a way to purge all images of the Kardashians. Then we’d be talkin’ some straight-up Utopia action.)