For the last couple of days my site has been playing up. I would start a post and all looked normal, but if I tried to upload external files or save the post, a message would come up saying "error, you are not logged in". On contacting the service provider they very promptly told me it was a fault at their end and the next day all was well.
It got me thinking on a subject that came up recently directly related to and at the same time completely opposed to this.
On inspecting some of my collection of photographic books, I discovered slight yellowing around the edges of the pages in some of the older books. Furious internet searching informed me that it is in some part inevitable, although still unfortunate that some of my older and most precious books have suffered poor storage at some time in their fairly long lives.
Too hot, Too cool, Too moist, wood de-gassing, bad luck, there are many ways books can be effected by their surroundings, so short of sealing then away in acid proof plastic, I will just have to live with the reality that they will age, but probably better than I will.
I purchased a lot of my favourites over 30 years ago* when I was just getting the photography bug. Many have been in a dozen or so different rooms in five different houses over their lives and I know some of those environments were less than ideal (nothing too irresponsible, but my wife and I had a thing for old houses and all that they entail).
So, they were bought in my 20's, are a little battle weary in my 50's and I will probably still find them fulfilling in my 70's. basically I am ok. Even the prints I did 6 years ago on my great little Pixma 9000 mk2 Canon printer are holding up well, though they are not printed in the more "archival" print process of pigment inks. Most of these have been superseded by better prints or better images anyway, so the extra effort and expense of archival printing would have been wasted.
Now the ironic bit.
As much as the condition of my books stressed me at the time, the reality set in the other day that everything committed to digital is far more fragile than anything printed. Sounds obvious really, but two things are always on the mind of anyone who deals with data stored in the cloud or on hardware, They are longevity and security (just ask the American electoral authorities).
This website could vaporise tomorrow if the service provider folds. The images on my hard drives all rely on devices with moving parts and format support for life. No device we buy today has a realistic life span of more than 5 years and that is if they cannot entice you before that. Nothing is free of batteries, updates or without built in obsolescence pending and do we really but that all those airport and bank glitches are not man made! No wonder kids of today are drawn to "retro" things, nothing in their world is certain for more than a year or two.
Dads old Kodachrome slides or lab prints in the box under the bed will out last any domestic and most industrial digital devices operational now!
My books look as solid as mountains in comparison.
Something to ponder.
*Sam Abel, Adams, Weston, Kenna, Wolfe, Rowell, Haas etc.