Telling mankind’s story through photos

I was just reading a paper titled The Narrative of Digital Photos: Time and Technology by my friend David Hoffman. The paper discusses, among other things, the importance of organizing the recent and growing flood of digital photos.

How do we organize the 1500 photos that are being snapped each second around the world? And why is it important that we do?

I love pictures. Since I was a little kid with a 110 camera I have been snapping like crazy. Anytime I had the chance I was taking a picture. I did (and do) this because I fear forgetting the past. The fun times, the lessons I have learned, the events I have attended, the people I knew, list goes on. It’s the same reason I began blogging. With each new roll, I was adding to the collection of photos in my bottom drawer back home and, unknowingly, forming my organization style: linear, chronological. This style has continued with my digital collection. Picasa does it nicely. So does Radar.

Pictures can tell the story of the world. To me, a great organization system/software would arrange images based on their time of creation and could show what was happening in the world at any moment in the past. It would be even better if you could know where on the planet each picture was taken from. Google, where you at on this one?

A problem. Let’s take me for example: I look at my collection of photos fairly often, it’s like studying, the more times I look at my pictures the better I can recall them in my mind and the better I can recall the event they are associated with. Here is the problem. What about the other events, ones that may have been more important or had a greater impact on my life. If I forgot my camera that day, are they are lost forever? As I place greater importance on my narrative photo collection and as time drives memories into the distance, I feel like they are.

On a lager scale, as David puts it:

…despite the startling excitement associated with telling mankind’s story though thousands of photos linked and chronologically detailed, the possibility for a reliance on photos to define the visualization of time could negatively distort our perception of time. The impact of a photo depends on the photograph itself as much as it depends on the person viewing the photo. If the photo, or if thousands of photos, are subjectively placed in the wrong light, the results could be an inaccurate or incomplete depiction of the human timeline.

This is why I love radar, and cameraphones. My phone is something I always keep with me. Because it has a camera, I will always have that too. Because I have internet access on my phone, I can send the photos I take directly to my collection. And, with radar I can share them and receive comments – if I choose to.