Sunday, July 20, 2014

Photos and Born Digital Research

As I was going through some photos from a research trip I took recently, it occurred to me the fragility of our digital media. I should note, this isn't the first time I've thought about that, just the first time I've written about it!  One click and Poof! You've accidentally deleted all your photos. I was thinking about this in terms of my family. In the late 1990s, maybe even 2000, we got our first digital camera. It belonged to my dad. I may have gotten one as well, I really don't remember. What I DO know is that my dad passed away in 2001, and there are no photos extant of him from the late 1990s-2000-2001. During that time, he and my mom went on at least a few trips together. So where are all those photos? He always played on the computer, so I am sure he knew how to download the photos. My mom is now gone, and that computer is long gone. And except for the few photos that I have print copies of, I don't have much to remember of him in the later years.

We are the most photographed age ever -- but who will see us in 40 years? 20 years? It's great to have all these photos on your phone and tablet to share at family reunions and the like, but nothing replaces the hard copy print out. We've even made the print copies more ephemeral, I know that copies of family photos I made after my mom passed away in 2007 are now fading. The paper doesn't last anymore.

I guess I just don't understand why we don't make things to last anymore. Even this snapchat craze - you take a picture, and then it disappears in 10 minutes. I guess I just want my photos to last -- the people in those pictures are here on this earth for only so long, in the grand scheme of things. Photos should last longer. Take some time today to look at your photo collection - maybe even print them out. You never know who might want to see your smiling face in 20 years when Facebook is a thing of the past.

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