Facebook Photos by Mail

With a couple young kids, you can imagine what my Facebook timeline looks like. Or my wife’s, rather—she’s the photographer in the family. At this point, we’re starting to surprise people when we post something other than photos of the kids.

Social media has such a wide reach that we can pretty much count on everyone in our extended families seeing that cute shot of the kids at the beach a couple weeks ago:

kids at the beach

A few late-adopters remain, though. A little behind the technology curve, you might say. They’re proudly doing email, but Facebook is just a bridge too far; Twitter is a nature term; and they don’t even know what Instagram is. Yeah, I’m talking about grandparents.

While our social media feeds overflow with photos of the kids, they’re left in the dark unless we set aside time to share photos via email attachments or—gasp—postal mail. Those come with all the usual formality of writing an accompanying message, following-up on replies, etc. It doesn’t sound like much, but when you only have a few minutes between one kid’s diaper change and the other kid’s temper tantrum, it’s just not going to happen.

I have discovered a phenomenon recently where some of our other relatives will download photos from Facebook and forward them on via email. We usually find out when we get a message from Grandma out of the blue commenting on how cute the kids were at the park “today” and then have to think back three weeks to figure out what the heck she’s talking about.

The Project

Build a Facebook application that automatically mails the latest photos from my Facebook timeline to an address (or addresses) I specify. It should aggregate a week’s worth of content in a nicely-formatted email message that looks personal without requiring any effort on my part. It’s probably smart to CC: me on the message (and use the Reply-To: header) in case there is any reply.

The Tricky Bit

It won’t be easy for your app to figure out what should be included. While almost all my photos are of the kids, there might be some that are not exactly Grandma-friendly. Coming up with a simple way to send just the kids’ pictures without hassling me for manual filtering will be a challenge. If it’s not automatic, I might as well write the message myself.

Bonus Brownie Points

Delivery via email would be simple enough, but Postal mail would be a delightful upgrade option. You could use a service like Lob on the backend to have prints made and shipped. I would earn so many brownie points if physical photos just started showing up automatically on certain doorsteps. And in this case, I’m talking about actual brownie points.