As a continuation of my last post, I’ve been thinking quite a lot about this idea that once a photograph or piece of writing is committed to an online public domain it will remain there indefinitely. It’s so easy to create a site like this that any budding artist, poet, writer, photographer etc can display their creations for the world to see…forever.
In the past a publisher would only continue to reprint books that sell, and an author that wasn’t considered profitable for their literary agent would be quickly discarded and replaced. Now I’m sure that there have been many great works from some incredibly talented people which have drifted into obscurity simply because they lived long before the development of the internet and it’s powerful ability to record, store and recall pretty much anything.
Unfortunately for me, the two books that I’ve written (sorry if I mention that a little too often) have never been taken up by any of the publishing houses. So had I lived through the earlier part of the twentieth century and was desperate to see my work in print, not only would I have been required to purchase a minimum print run and store the remaining unsold copies in my little ‘two up, two down’ terrace house, but on my demise some poor relative would be detailed the task of disposing of them, thus rendering my life’s work extinct...permenantly.
But fortunately, I am living in this super age of technology, and with the development of ‘Print on Demand’ services and the ease of ‘self publication’ I, and many like minded, hard done by scribble merchants, can be reasonably assured that our brilliant manuscripts will live on for all time…unless of course our great benefactor Amazon needs to free up space on its futuristic country sized servers.
So there it is, we all actually have the potential to live on forever…at least the things we’ve worked hard to create can. And maybe many years after I’ve departed this mortal coil a spirited literary agent will download Penguins & Panamas, laugh themselves silly, and wonder how I slipped through the net all those years ago.
Never before have we all had the ability to get our ten minutes of ‘Andy Warhol’…but I would prefer it to happen within my lifetime so I could at least enjoy it 😀
Just recently I’ve been going through a lot of the stuff I’ve collected over the years, including hundreds of old black and white photographs which belonged to my parents. Just like them I grew up in an age where digital technology was a futuristic pipe dream and we had to use the old fashioned ‘light sensitive paper’ inserted into a modern day pinhole camera to record our memories and special events.
I know it’s really hard to believe how daft things used to be…just imagine only a maximum of 35 pictures to a roll of film, and even then you couldn’t tell if they’d turned out okay until you’d carefully taken the film out of the camera, delivered it to a local chemist and waited a week before they were ready to collect and view. Hands would tremble with excitement as the colourful packet labelled ‘Your Lasting Memories’ was opened and the shiny paper squares removed, only to discover that several shots were out of focus, four images were of people without heads along with another six indistinguishable pictures of blurry blobs because a thumb had partially covered the lens. To add insult to injury there would be a sticker attached from the photo laboratory informing the disappointed recipient as to what they’d done wrong and how they could correct the problem in future. But of course it was too late by then as the holiday was over, or the party had finished, or the Bride and Groom had actually returned from their honeymoon and moved to a different part of the country.
Even the professionals could mess things up occasionally and I remember a situation where an entire party of ‘re-suited and re-booted’ wedding guests were reassembled weeks after the original event so the photographer could ‘have another go’ at getting it right as something had gone drastically wrong the first time round.
Of course the other side of this issue was the longevity of the memories in question. Images printed on paper can fade, get lost or be destroyed. Even photo albums of important events long past have probably been abandoned in the rubbish. The photo above is of my own parents wedding , and it probably hasn’t seen the light of day for decades…and there’s a fair chance it would have been returned to its hiding place until such time that someone else discovered it and discarded it due to a lack of knowledge or interest.
But something has changed now. Just by the simple act of writing this and attaching a photograph I have potentially ensured that the record of this particular event will last forever. The happy memories of the actual day for the attending have disappeared along with all of those folk in the photograph. But you can see on their faces the joy and happiness, and everyone who views this is now witness to one of life’s greatest gifts…the chance to get together as friends and family to celebrate a special occasion.