Jim Colburn
Don't Ask

The Future of History

"It's all about the Benjamins baby."
"Money talks, bullshit walks."
"The hills are alive with the sounds of music."

Two of these phrases are about real life. As I see it come 2050 or so there going to be a giant scream of anguish when historians, students and geeks of all types realize that most of the digital images produced during the first part of the 21st Century disappeared in The Great Hard Drive Crash of 2049. No pictures of the President. No pictures of the winner of the Kentucky Derby. No pictures of the Rotary Club dinner. All that history down the drain. The time to start solving this problem is now.

The problem, and it's solution, revolves around money and the desire to spend as little of it as possible. Companies own newspapers and they're out to make a profit. Spend less on photography and your shareholders will be happier. Money is the biggest factor in the switch to digital cameras. Once the flash cards are purchased there are no film costs and no processing expenses. Out takes are discarded and the selects burned to a CD-Rom.

When other industries run into problems they head to Washington for a bail-out. The airline industry has just received $15 billion worth of grants and loan guarantees. Farmers still get subsidies for planting, or not planting, certain crops. Maybe it's our turn for a little hard cash.

Let me propose a tax credit for those companies willing to stick with film. Call it "The Future Of History" Act. If your company wants to go digital go right ahead, but if you stay with those little pieces of plastic it'll look good on your bottom line and the bean counters will ooh and ahh. It'll keep a few more people working at Kodak and Fuji too.

Face it, printed newspapers and magazine don't really need things THAT quickly. The paper is going to roll off the presses around Midnight anyway so what difference does it make if the picture is ready 15 minutes after it's shot or two hours later as long as it makes the deadline? Not a lot. Things have been working pretty well for the last few years. Film gets shot, film gets processed, scans are made, film is filed, and those images will be retrievable in 2095...

I've already got a few amendments ready for the bill. The Photographers Get To Park Anywhere Act and the Photojournalists Get To Go To The Front Of The Line Bill sound pretty good.

But I may be overreaching...

Jim Colburn
Contributing Writer

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