Editor's Note: The following is a translation of an interview conducted by Uruguayan blogger, Martin Balao. He interviewed the blogger nicknamed E1000, who is one of the driving forces behind the community site Fotos de Uruguay [es] (Uruguay Photos), which began as a community photo sharing site and now provides downloads to Uruguayan musical artists. The link to the original article can be found on Martin's blog.
1. When, how, and why did Uruguay Photos come about?
When I went to Spain, as most immigrants do, I began to miss my country. When one experiences this, the firs thing one does is to try to take the country with you. You want to take everything that you want to see, touch, smell and hear from your country. When I entered the internet to look for things, I was very disappointed. In 2003, there was nothing online about Uruguay, so I decided to do it myself.I didn't have the slightest idea on how to make a site and blogs were not as popular as they are now. I began with a little bit of HTML and I created my first page. It was only one page, then I found scripts to make photo albums and there Uruguay Photos was born. I belonged to various mailing lists and I asked everyone to send photos. I had the the photos, but few visits. I knew that I needed to become friends with Google, and Google likes words, not photos. I visited PHPNUKE, a site where in addition to photos, there were other interesting things. I began to collect links to newspapers and radio stations that broadcast over internet, and the music began when I got to know other immigrants. Rapidshare, Megaupload or other places to host files did not exist. I installed a Tracker for Bit Torrent, and then Miriam and I started to have 1000 shared files by Bit Torrent and eMule, and so then the direct downloads.
2. What is the significance of the name and why an Argentine domain?
Its name comes from the fact that it started as a photo album, and the domain .ar is due to the fact that the domain is free. A Uruguayan domain is expensive. We had a .tk domain, but it bombards you with ads and popups
3. Could you provide us with some figures about the site's activity (visitors, traffic, messages)?
Well, we have more than 5,000 unique visitors per day, some 20,000 page views, very few messages. Before, when we had the downloads, many people downloaded and left. Now, we have a little more activity in the forums.
4. What resources are needed and what are the costs associated to maintain the site?
How have you dealt with the funding?I don't know about materials, but you need a pair of computers connected to the internet all day for maintenance, uploads, downloads, etc. The cost for the server is taken care of by Mirian, who pays from her own pocket. We also need some premium accounts in the different servers, but without a credit card I cannot pay. Uruguay has many problems with online payment. No bank has given me the solution on how to pay for an out-of-country service, without charging more than what the actual service costs itself.
5. What has been your experience with PHP-Nuke?
Nuke is great. It helps those that don't know anything. Ha ha. It is very difficult to select a CMS (Content Management System), each has something that you are looking for, but none has everything that you want.
6. Who makes up the staff and how do you distribute tasks?
The staff is Mirian. The works is distributed between Mirian and Mirian. Ha ha. Seriously, I won't give names because there are many and you can be seen in Uruguay Photos, such as moderators, uploaders, and others. In the end, it is an interactive site, and anyone who wants to help can do so in one way or the other. The one that is working 8-12 hours a day is Mirian.
7. What challenges have you had in relation to the users?
Interacting with the users is a very complex. It is difficult to please 35,000 people. Every day I get messages with instructions on how to administer the site. It's like football, everyone has a different lineup.
8. Have you had legal problems with the exchange of content due to copyright?
Have you been contacted by an artist? What are your thoughts on this?Cudisco approached us asking us to remove the direct download, only those songs from DSUS4 (a Uruguayan band) or something like that. They have asked us to remove their album and we did. We are not here to bother the artists and I don't think that we do. No one knows the exact amount that the artist loses with each album. They also do not know how many artists have been discovered through the internet. If I need to pay 300-400 pesos to listen to an album, I probably won't do so if I only make 200 pesos per day. Another problem is that in Uruguay, the artists do not reach into the interior of the country. I live in a town of 15,000 residents and there are no record stores. A couple of businesses have 10-20 CDs, but they are by international artists. Here no one risks bringing a vinyl album. I become familiar with artists on a daily basis because of Uruguay Photos. The radio stations in Montevideo do not reach us or are not listened to. An artist once said, if my album is not on the internet it is because it is bad, I don't know. I think the question is: if we get rid of downloading, will bootlegging disappear?I want to be clear: only 1 asked us to remove their albums, and about 12-15 asked us to put their album on our site. Pepe Guerra shares his album on his website, is this self-bootlegging? In Uruguay Photos, albums have been shared that the newer generations would never have had heard. 3 famous musicians congratulated us. There are many more musicians that are users on Uruguay Photos.
9. What are your plans for the future?
Making plans in an area where the changes are constant is very adventurous. When the services of direct download began, everything apperaed that it would be simple. Instead we have a guy that reports 300 or 400 albums at one time, and that changes all the plans.
10. Anything else to comment?This project is done only for a pat on the back. It is not-for-profit, it becomes tedious, it tires, it frustrates, but we continue because of the thanks from a fellow Uruguayan throughout the world.