[A] “forgotten generation, or even a forgotten century”

A popular past time on social media is to post old photos on Thursdays and Fridays, usually with the hashtags #ThrowbackThursday and #FlashbackFridays.  We enjoy seeing them.  We laugh at the outdated hairstyles, and smile and maybe shed a small tear for the images of those whom we love but who are no longer with us.

And all that may be lost.

An article was recently brought to my attention, in which Vint Cerf - considered as one of the "fathers of the Internet - warned that changing technology meant that we are at risk of losing digitized data.

Humanity’s first steps into the digital world could be lost to future historians, Vint Cerf told the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting in San Jose, California, warning that we faced a “forgotten generation, or even a forgotten century” through what he called “bit rot”, where old computer files become useless junk.

“When you think about the quantity of documentation from our daily lives that is captured in digital form, like our interactions by email, people’s tweets, and all of the world wide web, it’s clear that we stand to lose an awful lot of our history,” he said.

“We are nonchalantly throwing all of our data into what could become an information black hole without realising it. We digitise things because we think we will preserve them, but what we don’t understand is that unless we take other steps, those digital versions may not be any better, and may even be worse, than the artefacts that we digitised,” Cerf told the Guardian. “If there are photos you really care about, print them out.”

"If there are photos you really care about, print them out."  There are so many resources for doing just that, ranging in price and quality from your local drug store or big box store to professional color labs. I would encourage you to take it a step further: use those same resources to create picture books and albums with text.  Those same resources usually offer easy templates for creating such books - plop your image in, add some text, choose a cover, and soon you can have delivered an album where pictures won't fall out or multiple copies can be ordered for family members.  And what is more important, is that if you take the time to type in a caption - "This is my great-grandmother, Luella Jones, standing in her vegetable garden, around 1943.  I was told she would spend hours at the end of the summer, canning and preserving the food, to feed her nine children." - now future generations know who is in the picture and maybe some more.  

I do photo restoration ad can help you with designing albums and books, but even if you don't want to do that, even a scratched or torn photo is worth scanning or photographing and printing.  The shape it is in is less important than the history it shows - and your history matters.

The image above is one I created back in 2005.  It is a story about my parents, told to me by both of them.  Mom and Dad are now deceased, but I have these pictures of them during their courtship to pass along to my two children, and hopefully on to their children.  I have more of these digital scrapbook pages that I am printing in 10x10 photo books to keep on the shelf - and pull down on a quiet evening to spend some time remembering.

I hope you will be able to do the same.