Digital Images: Memory-less Within a Decade?
We’re unquestionably the most photographed generation ever. Our mobiles are always within reach. We draw and shoot faster than Clint Eastwood.
Not only do we snap Every. Single. Thing. we see, we’re snapping ourselves too. The average person will take 25,000 selfies in their lifetime, according to Samsung and the International Business Times.
Wow! Just a decade ago, the average person wouldn’t take more than 100 images of anything in their lifetime. (While the first cellphone camera came out as early as 2002, when Apple launched the iPhone in 2007, a new age of instant-photography dawned. Source: CBC News.)
Here’s the thing. Because we’re drowning in digital images, we no longer cherish the printed image.
I mean, why print? Our phones are (heavy) laden with images. We’ve splashed our favourities on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and every other social media platform available. We may even download our images onto a computer backup from time to time. Ahem. Well, maybe.
Why Bother Printing Digital Images?
Well, advances in technology mean our digital images aren’t secure or lasting. Within a decade, our computing technologies will probably render our current digital information useless. Don’t believe me? Listen to the experts:
There is growing realisation that this investment and future access to digital resources, are threatened by technology obsolescence and to a lesser degree by the fragility of digital media. The rate of change in computing technologies is such that information can be rendered inaccessible within a decade. Preservation is therefore a more immediate issue for digital than for traditional resources.” (Digital Preservation Coalition, emphasis mine).
Scary stuff. Within a decade, we may have no way of retrieving our precious memories stored in current digital formats. (Or it could be very expensive to do so.)
Trolling through your phone (or a backup) looking for a specific image is tremendously hard work. But can you imagine if you’re no longer even able to access the images you took of your newborn, or your baby’s first steps, or your family holiday, or any other memorable moment.
The last sentence of the above quote sticks with me:
Preservation is therefore a more immediate issue for digital than for traditional resources.”
One easy way to preserve an image is to print it.
Preserving Digital Images
Here’s a phrase you can add to your must-do list:
Print the photographs you want to preserve.
Yes, printing your favourite photographs is a first step.
A second step is to keep them in a safe place or better yet, to “albumise” them. (Put your photographs in an album and where possible, label them: dates and names will prove invaluable down the track, especially when the next generation wants to discover their roots.)
But that first step is key.
Get into a habit of printing your favourite digital images. You won’t ever regret it.