Isn't it funny how things come in and out of vogue? I remember when CDs came out and the radio stations were swooning about how great it was not to have the crackles and pops from records anymore. The digital sound was so clean and perfect. Or, when digital cameras came into their own, with beautiful color, sharper than sharp images and Photoshop enhanced contrast and saturation. Being of a certain age, I even remember when word processing took over typewriting as a way to change letters, words, and paragraphs with simple moves on the keyboard. Gone were the days of "whiteout" or erasure spools that meant you had to type over the same letter again to cover it with the white paint-like material. All you had to do now was highlight and delete or copy and paste.
I hate to sound like an old boomer. But, I can remember when everything...everything was analog. Digital was a term used to describe of or relating to the toes and fingers. And honestly, my life has become so, so much easier with the world of the new digital definition - data formed by binary digits. I can shoot hundreds of images on my phone, even if only a few are any good. I can store all my great songs on "the cloud" and pull them down onto my device whenever I want. I can type and retype without a concern in the world because somewhere, someplace in cyberspace, my words will last forever. Or so I think.
It amazes me just how many images we all create today on our phones. Unlike any time in photographic history has there been the ability to take images wherever we go with such a complex device in such a small package. And, many times, because of all the digital features inside our phones, these images really turn out nice. There is no guesswork. The little computer inside your phone does it all and even someone who knows nothing about photography, can take some really great images.
With all that said and as someone who utilizes old photographs to help me in conveying history through documentaries...how will those in the future really know what life was like in this time period? I mean, it is a pertinent question. How many people actually take their "cloud" images and print them onto a stable medium? How many actually back up their hard drives and when technology changes, download all those images onto the new device? How many images have you shot that you just can't seem to find and because there is no record, well, they are forgotten forever? And these shots were not just of your car in the driveway. These were shots of your wife and child together for the first time. Shots of a family reunion where your grandfather attended for the last time. Poof!!! Just like that, you have forgotten where they are and that record of who you are, of where you came from is gone.
I have bought numerous digital music files from iTunes. Many, many times buying them and putting them on my phone or backing them up onto the "cloud" for later, when I have more space. But, then when I try to find those files again, mysteriously they don't exist and I need to pay to download the same songs again.
How about all the letters you have written? The messages you have sent to those you love or care about? Can you find them if you want to reread those messages again? Are they anywhere? I have a box full of letters that my mother had sent to my grandmother when she and my Dad were first married. My grandmother kept those letters and when she passed away, my mother didn't throw them away either...she kept them too. Today, when I read those old, handwritten letters, I can see the quality of my grandmother's cursive writing and I can see in my mind, their small talk that was transferred back and forth for a ten cent stamp.
Honestly, I am rebelling against the digital age even though I use all the handy and efficient digital devices on a regular basis. But, I still have one foot in old technology and the other in the new. I love hearing the keys of the typewriter hit the paper - Slap, slap, slap...ding! I love the sounds of the mechanics and pieces inside the device as I slowly compose a paragraph. I love the sound a film camera makes when the shutter fires and you wind and advance the film. And of course, I love the look of the black and white image that comes as a result. Grain and all, it has a look not as sharp, not as perfect, but so much more real and organic than digital. This holds true with my 33 and 1/3 speed record albums. Crackles and all, I love the tones in between and the different sound you get from analog.
In my mind, digital is perfection. Perfect sound, perfect images, perfect wording...just perfect and we have the computer to thank for that. But, maybe the reason I like analog so much is because of it's imperfections. Because maybe, in a digital world with everything being perfect, it is nice to feel the imperfection of being human.