By Will Crowley ’18
The earliest wake up of the trip came on the group’s first trip out to Silicon Valley to see the Facebook campus. After walking all the way to South Park downtown, the Digital Safari team joined the early morning commuters on about an hour’s train ride out to Menlo Park to see the app that all of our classmates seem to love: Instagram.
Susan Rose, McIntire ’05 and director of Instagram’s product marketing team, hosted the group and walked us through Instagram’s main buildings on the Facebook Campus. The trip has been fortunate enough to have Susan host the Digital Safari group for a couple years now, but this year was the first time she had the opportunity to talk to us without fellow UVA alum Jim Quarles (who we will later visit at Strava).
Aside from many selfies and Instagram opportunities on-site, we were able to sit down and discuss with Susan two of the more pressing questions that have been on our mind since the beginning of the trip: 1) How does Instagram differentiate from Snap and even Facebook? 2) Does Instagram truly make the lives of its users better?
Susan explained how these two questions tied into her own decision to work at Instagram. Instagram is a unique platform that allows its user to create and discover quality visual stories. The platform itself promotes individuality yet captures and promotes tailored communities to enjoy shared personal interests and common connection. While she admits that there have been many unintended social consequences of collecting “followers” and likes, Instagram strives to break down the social barriers to truly allow people to create and have access to the most quality content. She views this discovery and artistic expression as a far different tool that Snapchat promotes.
The Digital Safari team ran right against our allotted time at Instagram and ultimately had to leave to head over to Facebook’s main campus for its afternoon session. The morning stint at Instagram was a great kick off to an action-packed day in the Silicon Valley.