Our last complete family portrait was taken two years ago. This was a snapshot taken after a dinner at our old house. Since then my parents have passed away: my father first and a few months after my mother. The shot was taken with a digital camera and the image was printed at our local photoshop. It now sits along with other photos that have been taken through the years. The column of memories contained a photo taken before World War of my grandfather when he was in the army. Then there were photos of us growing up. Memories frozen on a photo paper. A personal inculabula.
An inculabula is a book printed before the 15h century that survived the ravages of time. There are three types of old books that we consider ancient the incunabula; the handwritten manuscript; and the palimpsest – a book made of parchment that contains more than one content on its pages. The original content was written over after the page was scoured. An example of this would be the Archimedes Codex. The calculations and notes of Archimedes were scoured and written over with prayers.
Inculabulas are rare books because not much of their kind were produced and survived.
What has this to do with photos?
Actually it has to do with photos and the medium were we store our information, knowledge and culture right now, the digital format.
Digital may be handy and convenient but it does have to weak points; First, it is fragile; a mis-click, a compromised memory stick and a electromagnetic pulse can easily destroy it. Second, the format it was stored in might became obsolete thus making inaccessible.In other words the vast amount of culture, art and science of humanity sits on gossamer thread that can snap at anytime. On a personal level a lot of us store all that we treasure from ideas to opinions and from memories on the same fragile thread.
And that is why it is wise to have the things you treasure the most from snapshots and tomes in a form that is not digital. So when you’re device fails – whether by accident or by forces beyond your control – you do not lose such a precious piece. Print it: Back it up with hardcopy.You never know what might happen in the future.