Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Media Overload

My wife was talking to a friend of ours the other day and mentioned how much she liked digital photography because digital photos don't take up any room.

Well, maybe. There's physical space, and then there's virtual space. Metaphorical space. That is to say, disk space. It may not be anything you can pick up and examine in your hand, but it does get used up, and it costs money.

We are a society inundated, quite suddenly, with digital records of our daily lives. Photographs, videos, sounds, Web sites, blog entries. And they all take up space on our hard drives. Our digital photographs, from cameras, phones, camcorders, and scanners, take up about 40 billion bytes. Not a lot of space in today's world of terabyte drives, but it's still space.

They also take up space in our schedules. I remember the time it used to take my wife to arrange hundreds of photographs into albums. Now it's me, the family computer guru, trying to make some kind of organizational sense out of thousands of photographs and movies, along with scans of the hundreds of old photographs, not all of which made it into albums before the digital revolution.

Supposedly, there are programs that make this easier, such as iPhoto and the organizer within Photoshop Elements, both of which we have. But they have the downside of keeping multiple copies of the digital files, on the theory, it seems, that disc space is unlimited.

I would prefer to see some kind of tool that lets you organize and reference media files by reference, so that you only keep one copy (besides a backup on a seperate drive) no matter how many different ways you want to reference it. I might consider writing one of my own.

But on the other hand, perhaps my time would be better spent just dealing with the pictures and movies I already have.

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