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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

in this digital World, Father of Internet advises to print most photographs

Some advertisements are catchy ! ~ this one in 1980s – of  a man calling in the cave expecting the boulder to move – first he would call ‘sakura’ – repeat, then when nothing happens, will call ‘konica’ – it was the advt informing the World of name change. 

Remember ‘OGP’ and the rush at Photo labs ~ there were so many mushrooming in Triplicane High road and on Ellis road  !!   Marriage album was the priceless possession – some would keep looking at it – in a few years, so much of change in people could be observed – I mean the physical traits ! In the 1970s, Camera was something not within the reach of ordinary mortals – for functions, there used to be black & white photos. A decade or two later, photographers would cover important events including marriage – and take 3 or max of 4 roll of photos – remember those Kodak / Konica rolls were capable of 36 photos or a couple more.  If you ever owned a camera, one was unsure of how many photographs would get proper exposure for printing and how many of them would have captured the event of the persons in the centre…….  remember Salangai Oli comedy ! 

JPEG-  a commonly used method of  compression for digital photography (image) and then mobile phones with cameras have changed everything.  Now there are more digital images than prints.   There are technologies like ‘burst’ where several photos are captured in quick succession -  the cost-free and instant view features have ensured that many keep clicking. 

In between, some have gone out of sight. Eastman Kodak Company, commonly known as Kodak, was founded by George Eastman in 1888.  It was best known for photographic films.  The company's ubiquity was such that its tagline "Kodak moment" entered the common lexicon to describe a personal event that demanded to be recorded for posterity. Kodak began to struggle financially in the late 1990s as a result of the decline in sales of photographic film and its slowness in transitioning to digital photography, despite having invented the core technology used in current digital cameras.  In India,  Hindustan Photo Films Manufacturing Company Limited (HPF), Publis sector Unit from Ooty was doing great producing  photographic films, cine films, X-Ray films, graphic arts films, photographic paper, and chemistry.  It’s brand name was  "Indu", which means "silver" in Sanskrit.

It is not only the Firms  but the technology itself – ‘camera rolls’ – roll film, the spool-wound photographic film protected from white light exposure by a paper backing was selling hot.   The spool was to be loaded on to Cameras on one side and pulled across – when clicked, the roll would get exposed and photos would be processed.  It was a technology involving many stages and one was not sure of what had been captured till it got printed !  All things of a past ~ but this message from Google boss Dr Vint Cert is entirely different for he says that 21st Century could become a digital desert, comparable to dark ages !!

He may have helped to build the internet, but Dr Vinton ‘Vint’ Cerf has urged computer users to print out their most treasured photographs, or risk losing them, writes MailOnline.  The Google vice president warned that as operating systems and software become more sophisticated, documents and images stored using older technology will become increasingly inaccessible. He went on to say that our dependence on technology could lead to the 21st century being a new dark age in history, with any evidence of our culture lost in a digital 'black hole'.

According to the 'Father of the internet' Dr Vinton Cerf  - In centuries to come, future historians looking back on the current era could be confronted by a digital desert comparable with the dark ages - the post-Roman period in Western Europe about which relatively little is known because of the scarcity of written records. Dr Cerf, who also has the title of Chief Internet Evangelist at Google, said: ‘If we’re thinking 1,000 years, 3,000 years ahead in the future, we have to ask ourselves, how do we preserve all the bits that we need in order to correctly interpret the digital objects we create? ‘We are nonchalantly throwing all of our data into what could become an information black hole without realising it. Dr Cerf suggested that people print off important photos and documents to preserve memories.  ‘The 22nd century and future centuries after that will wonder about us but they’ll have great difficulty knowing much because so much of what we’ve left behind may be bits that are uninterpretable.’

He urged people to think about printing out their treasured photos and not rely on storing them as memory files. ‘In our zeal to get excited about digitising we digitise photographs thinking it’s going to make them last longer, and we might turn out to be wrong,’ he said. ‘I would say if there are photos you are really concerned about create a physical instance of them. Print them out.’ Dr Cerf was speaking at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Jose, California.

To illustrate his point he referred to an ‘amazing book’ by American Pulitzer prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, titled ‘Team of rivals: The political genius of Abraham Lincoln’. Her material was obtained by scouring libraries for copies of written correspondence between Lincoln and the people around him. Dr Cerf said: ‘Let us imagine that there’s a 22nd-century Doris Kearns Goodwin and she decides to write about the beginning of the 21st century and seeks to reproduce the conversations of the time. ‘She discovers that there’s an awful lot of digital content that either has evaporated because nobody saved it, or its around but it’s not interpretable because it was created by software that’s 100 years old.’ The problem also had serious implications for the storage of legal documents that needed to be kept for long periods of time, he said.

One possible solution is what he called ‘digital vellum’, a concept now being explored by computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. This involves taking a digital 'snapshot' at the time an item is stored of all the processes needed to reproduce it at a later date, including the software and operating system. Vint Cerf was among five men who won the inaugural Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering for the creation of the internet as we know it. He shared the £1million prize with Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Robert Kahn, Louis Pouzin and Marc Andreessen. The citation panel said the five men had all contributed to the revolution in communications that has taken place in recent decades.

Vint Cerf (pictured left) shared the inaugural Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, presented by the Queen, with Robert Kahn (second left), Tim Berners Lee (second from right), Louis Pouzin (right) and Marc Andreessen (not pictured) - photo credit : Daily Mail.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

19th Feb 2015.

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