Monday, October 4, 2010

The Death of Photography?

We stand to lose a whole generation of visual history at a time when more pictures are being taken than at any other time in history.

Why?  There are many reasons but they all stem from the fact that there are almost no physical photographs being produced any longer.  Digital photos do not exist.  The Province of Ontario Canada did not even charge sales tax on digital images produced by pro photographers and delivered over the web.  Why? Because there was no tangible product to tax--just electrons arranged in a certain order and stored god-knows-where out in cyberspace.  

The problems of storing digital images are twofold: 1. Will the media on which the cleverly arranged electrons frolic survive heat and cold and bumps and air pollution as well as photographs printed on paper. The answer to that question is not clear, but varies from maybe to probably for certain types and brands of optical disks and flash drives. The answer is simply "no" when thinking about hard drives in our home computers or in the big servers in the the sky.  Hard drives are no better than 4 and 8 track cassettes--just magnetic crap on a disk instead of on a tape.  Have you tried to play any old 8 tracks or cassettes lately?
An do we all back up our photos on quality optical media?  Nah...

2. And this is the one that bothers me.  Will our optical disks be playable in 100 years. (the hard drives will have been gone for many decades)?  I have some fine poetry I wrote decades ago on a computer that is mostly used for a fishbowl by people these days and I can't seem to figure out how to retrieve it.  This is just a few decades ago and technology is speeding up at an increasing rate since then.  !00 or 150 years will either have us travelling in starships or living in caves.  Where will we find a machine with the hardware and software to play 5 inch floppies or Zip disks.

Go ye therefore to the drug store and get some prints made on photographic paper before it's too late.

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