60-Seconds #323 : Future history - the coming of a Digital Dark Age

by Fred Showker

60-Seconds #323 : preserving future history I have a friend who recently lost their iPhone. I asked, is there a backup? The answer was chilling. Then I get an email from Karl Volkman who wants to write about the possible reality of a 'Digital Dark Age' asking 'Are Our Priceless Digital Records Safe?' I've preached on this topic in past 60-second windows, and it's time to say it again.

If we are not careful, we will be entering a new 'Digital Dark Age' Now that cell phones have all but replaced cameras for consumer snapshot photography society needs to take another look at their photographic habits. The lost iPhone victim lost over a thousand photos ... a 2-year history -- worth of snapshots. Vacations, friends, children, grand children, trips, education, and a host of historic moments all lost. Gone.

323_digital_history Everyone needs to make an intentional, planned effort to save, protect and preserve his or her priceless records -- future history. Some day, maybe 50 years from now, someone's going to ask who was that? Future generations want to know who, what, when, where, and a flood of questions about the old days. The key phrase is: backup, backup, backup!

Back up to the latest technology. Don't just rely on your computer's hard drive. You cannot rely on flash drives either. That entire media is subject to destruction. You think the Internet is forever. You've been told how the 'cloud' will store everything forever. Just remember that the cloud is nothing but someone else's hard drive.

Burn all your photos to DVD and or CD. And, be aware that those medias may not last forever either. I have data CDs that are 25 years old. They're still readable, but many of the software formats are not. So your photos need to be at the lowest common format -- probably JPG.

323_digital_history_books The best solution is print. I have photos taken over 100 years ago, using silver halide process (black and white traditional photography) and they look just as good as the day they were taken. Color photography isn't quite as stable, however color printing could possibly be the long-range medium that works.

I've started selecting the best and most interesting photos for future history from my collection and producing a book or calendar. I give a copy to each family member as a Christmas gift. I'm preserving my photographic diary in multiple copies. If stored safely, those will last a long, long time. Maybe not forever, but a very long time.

There are dozens of photo printing services out there for you to chose from. Online services like Cafepress or Snapfish, to name just two, will do everything from simple prints to lavish, hardbound, coffeetable books. I use iPhoto and Apple's photo printing services because iPhoto has built in generic templates that are quick to set up, and the print quality is second to none. Your local Walmart, Rite Aid, Wallgreens or Kinkos have services available and you don't have to deal with Internet ordering. For gifts and prints for framing, Kinko's will have a photo printer you can plug your thumb-drive or CD into and get wonderful color glossies!

fred_c_125 So, you see it's easy and fairly inexpensive to avoid a Digital Dark Age. You're survivors, and following descendants will thank you for preserving their history.

And, thanks for reading

Fred Showker

      Editor/Publisher : DTG Magazine
      +FredShowker on Google+ or most social medias @Showker
      Published online since 1988

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the original version of this article is at : http://www.graphic-design.com/60-seconds/323_digital_history.html

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