The technological transformation of the world around us is obvious. We rely upon self-piloting planes, we chop-down trees to chuck-up turbines, and we send a constant stream of thoughts, feelings, sights and sounds across the web before even having chance to comprehend them ourselves. Is the digital revolution all it’s cracked up to be or are we missing out because of it? This article will explore, in short, the effect moving to digital has had on photography and its parallels with other technologies.
Photography is everywhere now that the digital era is upon us. This is due to the ease, speed and affordability of photo-taking devices, such as phones, ipods, laptops and cameras. Memory and battery power on these devices is incredibly impressive, allowing users to snap photos of anything, anywhere and at anytime. This, of course, has positives and negatives. Think of the world without such photos as those from the 2005 London bombings. People caught up in the terror were able to make images and video, which otherwise could never have been seen. Years ago we may have been fortunate to have one person with a camera close to events like these, but nowadays almost everybody goes about their lives with a device in their pocket capable of capturing their every move for the world to see.
Photography is not the only art to have been revolutionised by the coming of digital, we can also see change in the music industry. Whilst musicians and producers thrive in being able to pull out a tablet or smartphone at any moment, industry giants have not had it quite so easy. Jung-yup states that digital technologies greatly empower consumers because digital cultural objects cannot be totally controlled by the cultural industries. He concludes that consumers are now in the position of producers and are able to challenge corporate domination. Tracks can now be created, uploaded and downloaded by anyone within minutes and it is this impatient social ideology that the industry has been dealing with.
The throw-away generation are here and they want everything yesterday. This is the social change we are seeing prompted by the super-fast create and delete digital era. Photographs are being taken and shared at an astonishing rate. Flickr announced in August this year that its six billionth photo had been uploaded, whilst Facebook boasts on average over 250 million uploads every day, that’s more than 91 billion a year. Take into account that far more are deleted than are shared and the numbers become even more astronomical. This is just one example of how people now create and obliterate at the tap of a finger.
With the speed and ease of digital technology do we take for granted the effort that was once put into such processes as creating an image or writing a track? Digital technology is a double-edged sword with many positives and negatives. Overall, though, we must view this transformation as a step forward and learn to harness its good and deal with its bad.