in General, Libraries/Info Sci, Tech

Digital Photo Preservation

Because I’m a native son of Rochester, NY, I still read the local paper online now and then.

As the home of Kodak, the city has always had an interest in photography. Today there’s an article on the pitfalls and perils of digital image preservation in the home/consumer environment.

The issue of image loss is a big one. My brother ran into some Windows issues a couple years back and ended up losing almost every digital picture he’d taken. They weren’t backed up anywhere.

I’ve been paranoid ever since. I back up photos regularly on an external hard drive, distribute CDs of photo sets to friends, and now have uploaded the majority of my snapshots to Flickr. I think I’m safe, but you never know.

Think of it like a digital shoebox. I’ve got piles of ‘traditional’ pictures as well, and really should see about getting them scanned in.

One of the more cogent points in the D&C article is that digital photos have no inherent backup. Film at least provided negatives to derive reprints from should the worst happen.

The article also mentions the advantages of keeping your digital photos organized. Maybe I’m weird, but I actually quite enjoy organizing my pictures. But even so, I wish I’d started sooner. I did a major overhaul of my organizational scheme, which was haphazard at best, about a year go. In the process I discovered that my old camera had very often not recorded the correct date. So I wasn’t able to classify some of the pictures accurately. The best I can do is narrow it down to the year. But now that my scheme is in place, dropping new files into it is a breeze.

Digital preservation and standards creep like this always interests me. Will the JPEG format still be readable 50 years from now? If so, will the storage device they’re located on be readable?