Friday, January 21, 2005

The Need for Printers! - & More on Picture Preservation

I believe the fact of diversification of the picture medium vis-a-vis uses of digital/CD/DVD, etc. have been overlooked in an otherwise nice discussion of the need for printers; longevity of pictures, etc. over at Glenn Reynolds place.

My own personal uses include the otherwise massive task of communicating genealogy in pictures of objects as well as people.

I have the near-proverbial box (in my case a carton about 14" X 18" X 12" in size) FULL of family pics from a decade or so ago back.......way back to my Greatgrandparents 50th anniversary back just after the turn of the last century! In addition I have both family bibles from 170 years old and with inscriptions beginning with great-great grandfather who bought it, forward...

I have scanned every pertinent page of the bibles with family writen items; included a family tree back to 1633 (with adjunct provisions for "probables" back to the 1500s), plus scans of all the pictures.....

A CD of these jpeg creations is now with each of my children; and, with my brother's and sister's children!

The bibles are neat; the remaineder of the degrading pictures, etc. are priceless. We live in an age where preservation; both by such scans; and by the proliferation of near-guaranteed retention by at least one of the kids is a bonus! Utilize It!

and read InstaPundit!.....


There's one in almost every American household: a shoebox stuffed with faded snapshots of days gone by, the kids' baby pictures, the ugly dress you wore to the prom, innumerable views of the Grand Canyon, the college roommate passed out drunk. Americans have been filling such shoeboxes for generations, and now, thanks to the delete button on digital cameras, this widespread custom is coming to an end.

I think that this story makes too much of the loss of bad photos, but the loss of hardcopy is a big deal. As Neal Stephenson said a while back:

Paper's a really advanced technology. That was brought home to me by working on this, when I read a lot of documents from that era, which were put down on really good, acid-free paper. They're all pretty much as good as they were the day they were made 300 or 350 years ago. This is not going to be true of today's electronic media in 300 years. There's a lesson there.

Yes, there is. Home prints are potentially longer-lived than commercial prints, actually (there's a lengthy discussion from a knowledgeable reader at the end of this post on what technologies are better) but you have to make them. Digital images are potentially immortal, so long as they get recopied from time to time onto fresh media, but reality being what it is, hardcopy in a shoebox is probably likely to outlast things that require actual human effort.

And this point, of course, goes way beyond family photos.

Break out your scanners; get busy and do the tough stuff. It takes time, but you will feel really good when you pass out CDs at your next family get-together!