If you haven't heard of this one, it's sort of like a cross between twitter and facebook but for posting photos. There is functionality to 'like' photos, follow other people, look at the latest photos on a particular topic (using hashtags) and post comments on people's photos. Also some photo manipulation filters, although there are many other photo apps out there as well (a little shout to the guys at Woodcamera, which is one of my favourites). The app can also post directly into Twitter and Facebook if you use those.
Until a few days ago, the Instagram application was only available to those people with smartphones, the idea being you take a photo on your phone quickly and easily, but then you can instantly upload it into the app, apply filters if you wish and anyone who follows you will see it on a timeline of posts of their followers immediately (that's how fast things move these days). It is coming to the web also, although for the moment photos can still only be posted from mobile devices - you need to have it on a mobile device and therefore have an account in order to be able to log in and interact on the web, although it is possible to look at public profiles on the web without needing to sign up.
One of the things I find most interesting is that professional photographers, amateurs and total beginners alike can snap an interesting photo and they are using very similar tools. When Sandy approached the East Coast of the US, I could see in real time the events unfolding from people who were actually there, and I think that is one of the most powerful uses of this tool, although I suppose the downside is that it is possible to fake photos and hard to tell if this has happened.
During the East Coast chaos, Time magazine gave 5 journalists access to its Instagram feed and one of those photographs was chosen for a front cover shot, which is yet more proof that social media is changing how we interact with the world and each other. You can read a little more about this here.
I suggest you go take a look, have a nosey... if you have a smartphone, download the app and play - It is honestly one of the most fun apps I have on my phone!! Their blog is also pretty interesting, with challenges to complete. (and if you are up for a challenge there are many many other groups on Instagram also doing this).
The only slight irritation at the moment for me are the spam comments so hopefully the team are working on a way to be able to delete those, but for now you just have to ignore them.
Here's my page...feel free to follow it!
http://instagram.com/ricketyjo or user ricketyjo from the mobile app.