It’s ironic that in an age when it is so easy to generate media, we have a real issue with media permanence. Phones have largely displaced cameras and video recorders as means of storing memories, and indeed they are capable of very high quality in simple terms – my current phone takes pictures with a higher resolution than any digital camera I have had, and also records HD videos. There are plenty of options for displaying media – we have used various companies to create photobooks, for example, and other people have digital picture frames. However, it takes much more discipline to get the media off the phone and onto somewhere that they can be enjoyed, even by the photographer, let alone anybody else.
There’s also the problem of how permanent the medium is. The fact that we don’t all remember Betamax and LaserDiscs is a warning to us. It’s all very well converting photos into JPEG and LPs into MP3 files – but what if in three years’ time, I’ve lost the disk they are stored on? Or in five years’ time, nobody even reads that file format any more?
This issue exists with traditional media as well. Part of the motivation for setting up the service that we offer was consciousness of the fact that, too often, when the sad time comes to clear a house, it will reach the stage where it is easier to toss stuff into a skip than it is to spend time processing it, or space storing it. On the CJK Digital facebook page are scans of some old postcards, once part of a fairly substantial collection, which had simply been dropped off at a second hand bookshop. Most won’t get even that far.
The file format may be an issue – although certain formats are now so ubiquitous it’s hard to imagine that they will ever be unreadable. The issue of where to store stuff is bigger, though. CDs/DVDs are one option: estimates for their longevity suggest of the order of 100 years. Cloud storage – uploading them to a company that keeps them online for you – is another. There are privacy risks, but the fact that a company is basically undertaking to keep them secure, providing their own backup service and protection against things like fire and theft, is probably as secure as it can get.
There are various providers, most of whom will charge for anything more than a limited service. One option that is particularly interesting, especially if you already have Amazon Prime, is Amazon’s Cloud Drive. Included in the price is the ability to store any number of photos. In addition to a desktop application, there are phone apps, which permit you to echo photos straight to your storage.