Are you one of those individuals who look forward to the birth of their children or even their grandchildren so that they can show off all the tremendous things they did in their youth?
Do you like to keep pictorial records of every significant and, indeed insignificant, event in your life from weddings and births to that great slip and fall over the banana skin?
If you are, then it is likely that you’re getting taken in by the greatest myth of the digitisation age: it is better to store images digitally than to print them out!
You’ll find countless blogs out there that will explain to you the importance of going green by ditching the idea of paper. Banks and financial institutions will also use the same spiel to tell you why you shouldn’t be ordering printed statements from them. To a certain extent, it makes sense to try and use less paper so as to contribute to saving the environment.
On the other end of the spectrum will be people who will tell why printing is important. In fact, there’s no dearth of people explaining to you why printing is important either. So, which way should your personal verdict fall? Neither. You shouldn’t go about printing ceaselessly but you shouldn’t give it up either. Like everything else, there needs to be moderation.
After all, you wouldn’t want to lose all your memories because you wanted to save the environment and didn’t understand why printing is important, would you? Nor, would you want to destroy all the trees in the world simply so you can keep pictures of you standing under some trees for your great – great grandchildren.
Technology, Formats, and a Very Confused Camper
There is this theory that is relevant to the world of innovation. It is known as the diffusion of innovations theory. This is a theory that is relevant to management, marketing, and communication studies. It’s an old enough theory but it has never been more relevant in the world than it is now. What this theory deals with is the speed with which new innovations are adopted in the world and the nature of that adoption process. According to this theory, there are five groups of people which are innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards.
If you fall in in any of the first three groups, and trust you should want to because the verdict on the last two isn’t flattering, then technology is something that you have had to face down at regular intervals. If you’re from the first two groups, then you most probably don’t even think it’s a big deal to face down and adopt technological innovations.
The problem, however, is that technological advancements are very sneaky. They’ll occur slowly and you’ll keep adopting them in little increments up until you’ll realise that you’ve gone from being tied to your chunky desktop to being mobile with your Smartwatch. It was a fairly innocent progression that you must’ve failed to notice. First it was 286, 386, and 486 to Windows 2000, then it was from desktops and laptops to tablets and smartphones before ending at Smartwatches.
The same kind of progress happens with the formats of documents and images you use. If you try to use Word files from ten years ago in your modern day Microsoft Word, you’ll most probably face a lot of trouble. Do you remember VHS tapes? Did you ever try to convert your parents’ recording of your childhood or their wedding into CDs? Wasn’t it an annoying process especially since people providing such services are also becoming extinct? Well, the same can happen to the digital photos that you’re confident are long-lasting.
Debunking Standardisation to Show Why Printing Is Important
The technologically savvier individuals amongst you would most probably cite the principles and trends of standardization at this point. The argument, in this case, would be that standardisation will prevent image formats from becoming inaccessible through obsolescence.
The claim will be that JPG will never suffer the way VHS suffered because it is a much more established format that is considered to be a standard in the field of photography. A stronger supporting argument will be that JPG has been considered as standard for more than two decades now and will not be shunted aside so easily.
However, what we don’t realise is that the format JPG was ideal for the desktop and laptop era. It isn’t so much in the mobility age where devices are shrinking while maintaining their functionality. JPGs are already being seen as a bit too cumbersome and lossy especially when being used in mobile setups.
In fact, a new format that provides greater image quality than JPG has already been developed and proposed. Now, some of you will suggest that this new format will probably cause larger file sizes. However, the reality is that this new image format offers better image quality than JPGs while keeping the file size at half the size. This new format has been dubbed BPG or Better Portable Graphics.
BPG is significantly more effective and efficient than JPG but it is still new. Still, it is highly likely that it or some version of it will replace JPG in the next decade. What will happen to your digitally stored and supposedly eternally secure photographs then?
Uncertain Future of Cloud Companies Also Shows Why Printing Is Important
One of the greatest technologies of recent years is the Cloud. From the moment that the concept of cloud storage came about, it has burgeoned at an unbelievable pace. The growth has almost been exponential with countless new cloud companies showing up and becoming popular. However, certain analysts are seeing this growth and trend as a bubble not unlike the computer bubble of the 1990s spurred by Microsoft.
These analysts are not expecting this bubble to last either. According to them, many cloud companies will fold simply because supply will exceed demand. So, if you were relying on storing your photographs with one of these cloud storage service providers, what will happen to them when the company disappears?
Printing Is the Long Term Solution
There is no way through which an individual can control the variables mentioned above. If technological advancements cause the adoption of a new device or format, it is only natural for the older format or device to be gradually phased out.
If images are stored with a cloud storage service provider that goes belly up, then the owner of those images is at that company’s mercy. That company’s owner could simply disappear, deleting everything in the process or give users access to their stored files out of the goodness of his heart.
These two factors alone show why printing is important, especially if one of your objectives is to have them accessible for the long haul. Additionally, there is the emotional and tactile angle to consider as well.
Professional photographers have a tendency to print out all their shots, arrange them on a board or floor, and then make decisions on which ones can be used, which ones need to be modified, and what the nature of those modifications are. Why printing is important for professional photographers? It’s because the true image only becomes visible when it is printed properly!