How will you view your smartphone photos in the future?

In the ‘olden days’, my grandparents went on vacation with a camera and several rolls of film. When they got back, there was the excitement of waiting for the film to be developed so they they could see how well (or badly) the pictures came out. The best shots went into an album and then the album went on a shelf where it could be viewed at any time. As the keeper of family memorabilia, I now have many of my grandparents albums that even 50 or 60 years later are still able to be easily viewed.

Let’s compare this with what happens today. You go on vacation and take 500 pictures with your smart phone. Maybe you subscribe to an online cloud service like Apple iCloud so the pictures get safely and securely stored. You can view them on your phone at any time and send pictures to family and friends and post them to social media.

From the description of how things happen today, you might say that we have come so far and progressed so much. I say that it’s half correct. With these easy to use tools for capturing, storing and sharing, we have the ability to have quick access to our memories. But what happens in 50 years from now, will your children and grandchildren be able to view these pictures or even know how to access them? If I take care of photo albums, they could last for several generations.

Now, let’s not forget that paper based prints don’t last forever. In time, there are acids and other chemicals at work that slowly disintegrate these precious memories. The real question to ask is this – how can we take the benefits of both ‘old fashioned’ printed photo albums with the convenience and ready access of modern digital assets? There are several things to consider:

  • If my digital files are organized then I have a better chance of finding what I’m looking for – be it now or in 20 years
  • If I determine what is important to me then I can revisit how I’m protecting it over time, not when something goes wrong

The reality is there isn’t a one size fits all approach to protecting your digital files for the future. From my experience, working with clients to determine what approach to take is the best way to determine a solution.

A solution that combines multiple safe secure storage methods plus easy access to digital files is one that will be useful for a period of time – but then it must be re-evaluated. Just as early photos used a process called Daguerrotype that eventually changed to modern photo development, so does a digital process change over time.

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