Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, Ph.D.

I study people, technology, and the worlds they make

Picture-taking then and now

I’ve taken several hundred more pictures today, of the ride up to Oxford, Oxford itself, and the ride back to London.

It struck me this morning that I lived for about three years in Brazil when I was a child… and we have maybe a dozen pictures from those years. [Update 2010: there’s more of them, and I put them on Flickr.]

The brilliant thing about digital cameras is that you can take massive numbers of pictures, with virtually zero additional marginal cost. Since they’re downloaded rather than developed, and since a 1 GB flash card can hold several hundred pictures, both the economics of picture-taking and the capabilities are completely different now than when I was young (or when I went to Korea in 1998 with an APS camera). When I’m on the road, I take pictures of interesting fixtures, stuff out the window, birds in the distance, completely ordinary yet striking stuff.

Of course, a lot of those pictures turn out to be worthless. But some of them come out, and when you’re talking about a percentage of thousands of pictures, the number of worthwhile pictures can become quite large. I’ll bet when I was young, we took pictures when there were special events, or pictures of each other in some really interesting place. But I’m sure there were no pictures of hotel rooms or breakfasts, except by accident.

I wonder if my kids will do every day what I just do when I’m traveling, or when I’m with them: take picture of perfectly everyday stuff, and assume they’ll be able to sort through them for what’s interesting, and come back to them later when they see potential new value in what had been unremarkable pictures.

1 Comment

  1. gizzmoandbuddie2222

    November 21, 2006 at 3:05 pm

    What do Chuckie E. Cheeses and Carnival Cruise lines have in common?
    Can you say “Norwalk Virus”?

    Just recently carnival cruise lines had a out break of the “BUICKS” OH no not again!

    Nothing worse then the officer of the Deck smoking a big stoggie, the sea rough as hell, and loosening my cookies up on the quarterdeck. This was to be expected US Nav.

    The fat cats at CEC are smoking the big stogie, while they cut cost and make it unsafe for your children. Check the DPH reports they are a matter of public record.

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