Impact of digital photography craze on culture not yet known, one expert thinks it could mean ‘dark

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Norman, Oct 15, 2005.

  1. Norman

    Norman Guest

    I don't recall seeing this posted here....thought it was interesting.
    Sorry if it's a repeat.

    Impact of digital photography craze on culture not yet known, one
    expert thinks it could mean 'dark age'

    ANGELA PACIENZA Sun Sep 25, 4:35 PM ET

    TORONTO (CP) - Did your parents keep volumes of books filled with
    embarrassing baby photos? Do you have a pic from your sweet 16? Your
    first car?

    Some experts think today's babies might not be so lucky now that the
    snapshot generation has gone digital.

    They fear that while we're taking and sharing more photos than ever,
    those memories are going to be trapped in cyber space, never captured
    on physical paper or collected in one source for future generations to

    Memories are being filed away on our computers and saved to CDs which
    don't have nearly the longevity of old fashioned negatives and photo
    paper. Many archivists believe the cutting-edge technology we use
    today to access these treasured memories won't be around years from

    "It's a fact - we will not be able to get at that stuff," said Mark
    Federman, chief strategist and professor with the McLuhan Program in
    Culture and Technology at the University of Toronto.

    "The research that I'm doing now, that exists on a computer that may
    be backed up onto a server, that may ultimately find its way onto a CD
    or a DVD storage device - none of those will exist 50 years from now,"
    he said.

    Centuries from now, historians might even be calling our time "a type
    of dark age," Federman adds.

    "Compared to earlier generations, very little of our cultural history
    is being recorded so that it will actually exist into the future," he
    said, pointing to centuries-old oil paintings that help tell the
    stories of our forefathers.

    "Unless we take our digital media and put it forward (in a traceable
    way) then the people in the future will have no record of us in the
    way that physical records have come forward to us . . . what that
    essentially means is that we're forgotten."

    But new dad Dave Ullrich isn't so grim about the future. He's
    optimistic that new technologies will allow for proper archiving so
    his nine-month-old daughter will be able to revisit her childhood long
    after she's a senior citizen.

    Since his daughter's birth, Ullrich has been snapping digital pictures
    and posting them to a personal website for friends and family to
    peruse. He admits that with every passing month mom and dad have
    become a bit lazier about updating the site but maintains his bundle
    of joy will have a record of her childhood.

    "We're taking, probably, as many pictures but they tend to just go on
    the hard drive and sit there," said the Toronto software developer.

    "It's more about archiving."

    Does he worry that 50 years from now his daughter or his grandchildren
    may not be able to read some of the disks?

    "What I'm expecting is that forms of displaying digital photography
    and archiving will become more user friendly," he said.

    Besides, he figures that since his family's memories are a digital
    format they'll be easy to transfer into whatever new format emerges.

    Still, others warn about yet another problem with the digital photo
    revolution - trashing and self-editing photos.

    Stephen Bulger, who runs the Stephen Bulger Gallery in downtown
    Toronto, says photos that we hate today might become prized
    possessions in 20 years.

    Photographers always go back to their negatives and find "hidden
    gems," says Bulger, who frequently hosts exhibits of historical

    He wonders about the cultural effects of shutterbugs editing as they
    go along.

    "What's happened over and over again is that people using analogue
    (film and paper), invariably there's something that causes them to go
    back to a particular roll of film they shot and somewhere on that
    contact sheet there's a photograph that didn't strike them as being
    very significant until well after the photograph was taken," said

    "They can print it now because it's still there and it's as good as
    the day it was made."

    He recalled one photographer who, while putting together a
    retrospective of his work, found some beautiful works in 50-year-old
    contact sheets.

    "Some that he took in the 1950s he didn't print until 2000," said

    Had those photos been on CD, the quality would have deteriorated
    significantly to the point of being unreadable.

    "CDs don't last forever," Bulger warns. "It won't last as long as film
    will last."

    He suggests people copy data from one CD to a new one at least every
    five years to prevent data loss.

    So is there a surefire solution for people who want to make sure baby
    photos last long enough for future grandchildren to enjoy?

    Most experts will advise to print as well as save to CD or DVD but the
    debate continues.

    - ---
    Please reply via group. E-mail ID does not exist.
    Norman, Oct 15, 2005
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  2. Yet another "sky is falling" article.
    But in the end, it won't matter as global warming
    will melt all the CDs and DVDs and burn the film and prints.

    (bad week--roof leaks and I had a laptop die,
    But I didn't lose anything--it was backed up.)
    Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark), Oct 15, 2005
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  3. Norman

    Bret Ludwig Guest

    With the mountain of negatives I inherited from my grandfather,
    father, and other deceased family members, I can hold them up to the
    light and see if they are roughly what I want and can print them. A
    1985 hard drive stored in a desk drawer is now usually
    unrecoverable-the odd interfaces used then no longer exist.

    It's also referred to as the "Marilyn Monroe phenomenon." 75% of the
    Earth's population was not born during her lifetime, but her photograph
    is recognizable by over half the world's population. In many countries
    the percentage approaches 100%. Today's pop and movie stars may not
    have any significant number of pro-quality film negatives and prints in
    existence. Many of the magazines and books may survive, giving some
    image library to future generations...but what about people who never
    make the A-list?
    Bret Ludwig, Oct 15, 2005
  4. Norman

    Tony Guest

    Tony, Oct 15, 2005
  5. Norman

    R. Murphy Guest

    There is some truth I think in this

    The old photos just need pulling out of the cupboard, loft etc and can then
    be viewed.

    But the digital ones (that aren't printed) need electronic equipment etc,
    and also the correct technology - which keeps changing.

    For example - (I know text documents aren't quite the same as pictures, but
    the analogy is there) I have some diskettes with old documents on them which
    are compressed to get them onto the disc. They are also backed up onto my
    hard drive and have been regularly copied/backed up/restored.

    But can I access the content? - No. Decompressor no longer available unless
    perhaps I do some research.

    And assuming the discs are readable, if I had not made copies of them would
    I be able to read them? - How many PC's are sold now with a diskette drive?
    How long before you won't be able to get diskette drives because "no-one
    wants them". And will it be the same with the modern CD, DVD - now that USB
    pens, Ipod-type machines are here - who will want to bother with CD or DVD
    in 10 years time? or 20, 30, 40 years?

    These records will become the realm of the specialist if at all, and the
    family records will effectively vanish from the eyes of the merely curious
    R. Murphy, Oct 15, 2005
  6. Norman

    editor Guest

    editor, Oct 15, 2005
  7. Norman

    Bill DeWitt Guest

    But very little
    Maybe, maybe not. If they are in a cupboard, they may be stuck together,
    faded beyond use, or, as in the case of my father-in-law, simply too
    numerous to sort.
    And slides and motion pictures need equipment. Run down to the Wal-Mart
    and get yourself a motion picture projector... I won't hold my breath.
    But it is available. Fix your problem now. Post them as unformated text
    on the internet. Immortality.
    Repeat : Run down to Walmart and get a projector. Bet I can find a
    diskette drive faster. Finding a projector is about as difficult as having a
    data retreivial firm extract your images from old disks, hard drives or even
    broken CDs. Sure you can find some used ones on Ebay, and I know a guy two
    towns over who can read an old damaged HD.
    Perhaps some will, some people don't take care of their stuff. But those
    who carefully store their family photos as film media will -also- carefully
    store their family photos as digital media, but the digital media will still
    look exactly the same in 100 or 1000 or 100000 years
    Bill DeWitt, Oct 15, 2005
  8. Norman

    Hal Lowe Guest

    Hello Bill,

    I liked your replies to the various secitons. I had a similar problem
    not too long ago only with repect to color slides.

    I had over 500 of them that I had taken as a combat photographer in
    Viet Nam (1968-69), but hadn't looked at them in about 20 years or
    more. They were stored in a box in a _relative_ controlled indoor
    environment (heated, cooled, etc.).

    The slides were in horrible condition, suffering from various forms
    of deterioration (pitting, fading, etc.). In another few years many
    of them would have been

    I scanned them and corrected many of the problems with Adobe
    Photoshop. That is, using the same digital systems that some of the
    folks visiting here condemn or otherwise deplore.

    I did precisely what you said and placed (the better ones) on the
    Internet for eternity...well, for as long as I'm around and for me
    that's long enough.

    I've had similar problems with old photographs.

    PS: I have an old 8mm film projector in my attic. It has no sound,
    but everything on it works, except the bulb, which they no longer
    make. So, someday I play to convert the films to DVD. ;-)

    Take care,

    Hal Lowe (logo t-shirts, mugs, etc.) (digiPhoto) (web hosting)
    Hal Lowe, Oct 15, 2005
  9. Norman

    eawckyegcy Guest

    Norman trolls:
    What? You mean CD's can decay? DVD's can rot? Outrageous! You are
    quite right: no one has ever noticed this before, let alone posting
    the problem to This is an ASTOUNDING revelation!!!
    Ask the cigarette people and they will say that you should smoke more.

    Ask the casino, and you should gamble more.

    Ask the dairy cartels, and they insist you should drink more cow-juice.

    Ask the oil companies, and you ought to make heavier use of gasoline.
    Wash your mouth with it!

    Ask the photo-lab, and you should be making more prints, and you
    shouldn't delete stuff, since it can't be printed then (multiple times
    -- more is better, according to the photo-lab).

    Can you discern the pattern here? If you can't, then indeed, maybe you
    should start funding the "more studies" that are "needed" to resolve
    this tricky "debate".
    eawckyegcy, Oct 15, 2005
  10. Norman

    Bill DeWitt Guest

    Hal Lowe mentioned in passing :
    My FIL has boxes that paper reams come in, about 2ft, by 1 by 1.5 or so.
    They each hold maybe 3000 slides and he has about 50 of them. They span his
    professional career, starting in WWII, going up to some discrete conflicts
    after Korea. He has most of Asia in the 40-50s, southern Europe through the
    60s and some middle east images up to 1980. He also has 60 years of family
    history, including town and state history for much of New England. I have
    offered to purchase and set up a slide scanner, but he keeps thinking that
    my brother-in-law will do it someday. I don't want to risk moving the
    slides, or I would do it myself.

    It will be way too much of a shame if something happens to them before
    they are preserved.
    Bill DeWitt, Oct 15, 2005
  11. Norman

    Hal Lowe Guest

    Hal Lowe, Oct 17, 2005
  12. Norman

    Bret Ludwig Guest

    Bill DeWitt wrote:
    Wal-Mart is not the cine qua non of equipment suppliers.
    Bret Ludwig, Oct 17, 2005
  13. Norman

    Bret Ludwig Guest

    If the negs were stored in proper paper they are still printable,
    often surprisingly so.

    And E-4 and E-6 transparencies are quite stable, Kodachroes more so.

    Look at Douglas Kirkland's most recent book release. The color on all
    these is simply magnificent,(of course so is the model!) and being as
    they were shot with a Hassy we can tell they were not Kodachrome
    because 120 Kodachrome was a Seventies innovation AFAIK.

    That one book, is as good a case for film as needs to exist.
    Bret Ludwig, Oct 17, 2005
  14. Norman

    Bret Ludwig Guest

    If the projector is a desireable one there isa conversion to a
    different, available bulb out there. As are many dual-format 8/S8 ones
    some with sound.
    Bret Ludwig, Oct 17, 2005
  15. Norman

    kashe Guest

    Is that a sly pun or a typo? :)
    kashe, Oct 17, 2005
  16. Norman

    Hal Lowe Guest

    It's not desirnable, nor is there a conversion bulb. I've already
    checked to the extent that this POS is worth the effort.

    Thanks anyway.

    Hal Lowe (logo t-shirts, mugs, etc.) (digiPhoto) (web hosting)
    Hal Lowe, Oct 18, 2005
  17. Norman

    Bret Ludwig Guest

    Well, brevity is the soul of wit...
    Bret Ludwig, Oct 18, 2005
  18. Norman

    Bret Ludwig Guest

    Good ones can be had Freecycle or at yard sales all day.
    Bret Ludwig, Oct 18, 2005
  19. Norman

    Charlie Self Guest

    It doesn't matter. When he unreels the 8mm, it needs special treatment
    and handling or it will crumble.
    Charlie Self, Oct 18, 2005
  20. Norman

    Bill DeWitt Guest

    "Run down to Walmart" is a metaphore for "easy access shopping". The
    point is that you have to do some work, or "research" as the OP called it,
    to preserve data.
    Bill DeWitt, Oct 18, 2005
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